Being a Media Outreach Specialist (MOS) for DigitalRelevance by day and a Music Editor for by night has put me in a unique position with regard to public relations and securing media coverage.

1-person-2-perspectives-3-tips-for-successful-media-outreachI get to sit on both sides of the table and it’s led me to the interesting conclusion that whatever hat I’m wearing tends to dictate my behavior based on the best practices I’ve been taught about filling that role. In reality, I should be integrating these insights and letting what I like to see as a music editor inform the way I craft my outreach emails as a MOS, and vice versa.

Tip 1: Personalize your email so that it stands out and doesn’t look like a mass email

Media Outreach Danielle says: Be concise. Use the contact’s first name in the salutation. Open with a statement that lets them know you’ve done your research and understand who their audience is. Clearly state the value you can offer and candidly outline what you would like the recipient to do with the information you have given them.

Music Editor Danielle says: I want to know that you understand our core demographics are 20-somethings who like electronic and jam music in a live setting. I also want to know why you believe what you are offering me is of interest to that audience, or what credentials you have that could demonstrate that what you are offering is relevant.

How to please them both:

1. Summarize what or who you believe to be the media outlet’s target audience and lead with that insight.

2. Succinctly explain what you have to offer the media outlet and how it serves the interests of the audience you described in step one.

Tip 2: Avoid sending your email to multiple contacts at the same outlet

Media Outreach Danielle says: I know it would be rude to hit up every person in the organization, but what could it hurt to send it to a couple of people who have titles that I think would be interested? Moreover, I’ll increase my chances of someone seeing, opening, and reading my message if I sent it to multiple contacts.

Music Editor Danielle says: When my boss (or whoever is running the generic [email protected] email account) forwards me a message that I’ve already seen in my own inbox, it frustrates me for a couple of reasons.

One, the fact that you decided to email multiple people within my organization tells me that you don’t have confidence in your pitch and that you want to send it to others “just in case.” Secondly, you’re wasting my time when I have to reply to the same email that I’ve already responded to. And that offends me.

How to please them both: Pick the right person. If you don’t understand the job titles in the database or listed on the outlet’s website, send the person you’re leaning towards a quick tweet to clarify your questions. If you’re still unsure you’ve got the right person when you send the email, say that. A little humility goes a long way in developing a new relationship, and by pointing out that you’re aware that you might have contacted the wrong person, they’ll probably cut you some slack even if you did.

Tip 3: Be intentional about following up on unanswered pitches

Media Outreach Danielle says: If you’re using a database such as Cision to build your media outreach list, be mindful of people who explicitly state in their bio that unsolicited requests should not be revisited by a PR professional. Aside from that, a quick follow up after giving adequate time to read and react to the email can be helpful. Media people are busy and a gentle poke from me shows them I’m committed to securing coverage on their outlet and serves as a friendly reminder to reply to my request.

Music Editor Danielle says: I try to respond to each request that I get, but sometimes the content being pitched is so irrelevant to my audience or is simply not newsworthy enough to warrant coverage, that I send it straight to the trash without replying. Contrary to PR beliefs, I don’t ignore my inbox and its contents; it’s quite the opposite in fact. So when I never replied, it was because I simply wasn’t interested.

So why didn’t I just take the time to reply that I wasn’t interested? Because you didn’t take the time to pitch me relevant content.

How to please them both: Sometimes we prematurely fall in love with our own ideas before receiving support from external stakeholders. Before following up on what you initially believed to be an irresistible pitch, ask yourself the following:

Have I given them enough time? Three business days is a standard courtesy.

Have I clearly stated what I wanted them to do, or is there a chance they were confused? After you’ve sat on it for three days, give your pitch an honest reevaluation (or ask a colleague to review it) to see if your message could have been misinterpreted. If you determine that there could have been a miscommunication, use that as your reason for following up.

Is the intended result worthy of a follow up? Have you tipped off the outlet to an average news item that might yield a share on Facebook or a RT on Twitter, or are you presenting them with a deeply insightful piece of content that has taken months of research and weeks of production to create? Know when to hold’em and when to fold’em. Sometimes the media outlet just isn’t that into what you have to offer.

If you determine that your pitch is super-relevant, you’ve given them ample time to respond, clearly stated what you want from them and believe coverage from this outlet would significantly boost your campaign, then (and only then) should you follow up.

The key to successful media outreach is taking a seat on the opposite side of the table and being honest with yourself about what you see from that perspective. What guiding principles do you use in developing and maintaining relationships with the media for content placement and promotion?

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