(Originally published on theglobeandmail.com)
Journalists are very fickle characters, and for good reason. You would be, too, if you had hundreds of people a day vying for your attention, every one of them thinking their story is more important than the last.
Try following these tips to help build relationships with key journalists and boost the odds of getting media coverage.
Write a compelling subject line. If you want to break through the clutter, you need to get creative. It also helps to clearly indicate that you are sending a release or pitch, so the recipient knows it’s not spam or marketing material.
Personalize it. Avoid mass mailouts. Research the journalists who cover your area and focus on them. Target your pitch to the individual journalist, while referring to their previous work.
Get to the point. Your pitch is going to a journalist, not the public. You don’t need to quote each person, or list every sponsor. Offer the general concept; the journalist will decide who is important to the ultimate story.
Timing can be everything. Try to time your pitch with the relevant news of the day. If you are launching a snow-removal service, don’t pitch it in July. Likewise, you don’t want to pitch the perfect Christmas gift in February.
Know when to fold ’em. PR is not sales, and journalists will know pretty quickly if they are interested in your pitch. A surefire way to permanently damage a relationship with a journalist is to call multiple times.
Corey Herscu and Samantha Goldsilver run Herscu & Goldsilver, a public relations agency focused on emerging technologies.