If there is one thing that gets hammered into communications students it is that they need to remember that they will be reliant on the media. Even so, many publicists are still careless when it comes to how they work with the media. Though there are many, here are my top tips for how publicists can work better with the media.
1. You didn’t choose the suitable media
It makes no sense to send your news release about a new line of cosmetics that you are launching to a business newspaper. Not only are you wasting your time, you are also wasting your money as you will get no coverage. Once you have identified the suitable media, go the extra mile and find the writer/journalist who will be interested in the kind of information that you have rather than sending it straight to the editor who will most probably not even read it.
2. You send information that is not newsworthy
Journalists are busy and do not have time to go through emails with irrelevant information. Use the 5 Ws and H formulae (Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?) when writing your news releases. It helps the journalist to immediately identify the news in your release. When there are updates to a story, do not write a completely new release, but rather email the updates to the journalist who has expressed interest.
3. You send news releases to journalists who you never bother to invite to your events
Journalists get annoyed when publicists do this. It is like being expected to buy a gift for someone who has not bothered to invite you to their birthday party. Invite the journalist to your launch or press conferences even if they do not make it. The gesture shows that you valued them and motivates them to give you coverage.
4. You do not know the deadlines for the various media
Newspapers have daily deadlines, while magazines may have longer deadlines. Knowing what the deadlines are will help you to send your releases in enough time for them to be published at the suitable time for you.
5. You do not respond to queries on time
Usually before sending out a news release you send a pitch to the journalist or features editor, especially if it is an exclusive story. Once the journalist has accepted your pitch, do not waste time in sending the news release and any other relevant background information. The journalist will most probably also contact you again with questions or to request an interview. Do not take a long time to send and respond to these as the journalist will most definitely move on to other stories.
To many these may seem like generic things but the fact that journalists are still complaining about them means that there are publicists who do not pay any attention to them. Your relationship with the media is probably the most important one. Nurture it.