How I Conquered the Art of Media Relations
I was waiting for his reply, going over and over again the email I had sent some time ago. Was it correct? Did I overdo it? Will he be interested? How much time has passed? One small question stemmed many more, and I couldn’t stop refreshing my inbox. The pressure was getting to me. I was just not able to focus on anything — whatever my sight fell on was nothing but a blur. My physical body was just filling up space in that office.
Suddenly, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of his name popping up in my inbox. I jumped in my seat, hoping that I will have the courage to open and read his response. This was, no, is a big deal for me. Slowly my fingers moved, and I found myself staring at the first and only line, heartbeat elevated. Sure, I will cover it, it read. I couldn’t move, I felt chained to my chair.
Yes, it finally paid off, I heard myself shout. I was stunned. The efforts had not been in vain. I wrote a quick response thanking him and telling him I will be available any time to answer and assist.
The sun set, everyone running through streets to get to their homes. I was, however, lost and my brain refused to stop going back in time and reliving the days leading up to this moment.
I was assigned to pitch. To a journalist at a national media outlet. This was the first project where I was my own supervisor. A very big deal. I couldn’t quite understand what was running through my head. I was a mixture of nervousness, excitement, intimidation, and scary.
The only relief I could find was the lectures, interviews and articles bookmarked on my PC, the ones that explained and gave a how-to on media relations. They were strikingly similar in content, always stressing on few key concepts. Then again, I was a beginner. I didn’t really have a chance to connect and build relationships with media before. So, even though I had theoretically conquered the art of media relations, I would have to be a naive foot soldier in reality.
Research and narrow down the list of journalists I think would be interested in covering my story. Then read their articles, understand their tone, find their interests. This will make it easy for me to connect with them online, mostly through social media channels (read: Twitter) and blogs, if any. Retweet, comment or share their content. Know them. Start to write. Personalize the pitch. Give them angles to work with. Make it worth ‘their’ time. Journalists get bombarded with hundreds of emails every day, most of them include pitches. Why should they and their audiences care about my story? It’s not about getting the word out. It’s about sharing information that will be relevant to them and their audiences. Make it so.
I was scribbling down these points, knowing too well it’s easier said than done. My conscious soothed me, however. I knew where to begin, and that was enough for me. I’d take it step-by-step. So came a media list, followed by Twitter search… One by one, I crossed off all the points.
I was ready. Almost. Let’s send it. This was the moment. In few seconds my email would leave ‘draft’ and become ‘sent’. Slowly, I managed to see my pitch travel electronically, and I heaved a sigh of relief. Done. Finished.
I am brought back by the sound of janitor coming in to sweep. One down, few more to go, I assured myself while leaving the building, hoping that I will receive a response from other journalists. Though minuscule, I had conquered the art of media relations that day.
And I hope you conquer it too.
P.S. — This infographic might just simplify pitching for you. It certainly did it for me. All the very best.