Capturing the attention of the media is a mix of magic, timing and your raw brilliance. Holding that attention is by comparison a far easier affair, because for the most part it just comes down to good manners.
Kyra Pybus is a PR pro and the mind behind List Co. A media list app that supplies media contact lists for small businesses. She says getting your hands on a great industry-specific list is a good start, but from there you need to dig deeper to find synergies.
“A List Co. media list will give you the key editorial contacts in your industry, be that hospitality, design, wellness, fashion or the culture sector. It’s up to you from there to get familiar with each one, and to know their body of work,” says Kyra. “Google them, read their articles, follow them on Twitter, buy their magazines. When you are emailing cold, being able to mention their work will make your pitch personal. You will be noticed.”
Once you’ve been featured, the name of the game is developing these early media successes into strong professional relationships. Here’s a guide to not dropping the ball.
Hype their work
Let’s face it they have seriously hyped yours.
You will want to post that hit on all your social properties, and each post is a chance to acknowledge the journalist.
Harper’s Bazaar’s Melbourne Editor Rachelle Unreich suggests asking your media contact how they would like to be acknowledged in social media. “Many of us are very active on LinkedIn and Twitter, but for me seeing a personal mention come up on Facebook or Instagram is gratifying”. (@rachelleunr)
Bottom line, everyone appreciates great feedback on their work, including journalists. Consider yourself a member of their social media hype squad from now on.
Help them help you
Journalists have the most immovable deadlines. When they get in touch with a request of any kind, drop everything. If they want to make a time for a phone interview ask when works for them, and make it work for you. If they send over a few questions in an email, revert. ASAP.
If they are pulling a sample for a shoot, move mountains to get it couriered by the end of that very day.
In short, be the person they know can come through for them when they are facing a foreboding deadline.
Can’t buy me love
There is a fine line between sending press samples and gratuitous gifting. The latter makes many journalists feel uncomfortable. Journalists never want to feel ‘bought’ or bribed.
There is undoubtedly a huge and rather controversial freebie culture that’s been building, fueled by Instagram. But the rules are different with the ‘traditional’ media. In the old days a Journalist would return an unsolicited gift, and even now accepting a gift doesn’t always hit the right note in terms of their sense of professionalism.
Sending a thoughtfully selected sample or thoughtfully chosen momento after an article has been published as a token of gratitude is fine, but avoid sending anything of value prior.
Publicity becomes personal
Sending a thank you note may slip your mind in the excitement of getting a great press hit. Don’t. Let. This. Happen. A handwritten note is the best and most sincere response. Let them know you loved the article, or their description of your work. Tell them how it felt to be featured.
Rachelle Unreich has interviewed the most hallowed of celebrities and written for the world’s most prestigious titles, but she says that there is nothing more rewarding than receiving a handwritten note from someone she has featured. “I love to hear how the article made a difference. Hearing that their family loved it, or that it helped them secure a new wholesale account; we are human too, we want to know we have helped.”
Do you follow?
When journalists move to a new publication or media house, or when they go freelance, they will contact the connections they want to bring forward with them. If you find yourself BCC’d on this mailout it’s a very good indication that you are a valued connection.
Sending a ‘congratulations on your career move’ in the form of a card is a classy gesture. If they have really stood by you for a while, a simple bunch of flowers will light up their new desk.