Club PR Tips & Tools
In today's fast-paced media environment, pitches or press releases can end up buried in inboxes. Don't be afraid to follow-up with your local media if you've pitched a story idea or segment. Here are some tips:
AND finally, remember that reporters are people too!
- Often, in order for a press release to get from the editor's desk into print or on-air,
you have to call the editor to sell your story — this is called "follow-up."
- Before going into detail about why you are calling, make sure you are speaking to the right person — someone who covers the area you live in and the topic you are pitching. If not, they can often refer you to whoever covers pets, events, lifestyles, sports, issues, etc.
- It's worth the extra work to try to find the right contact. The media get many emails and faxes every day so you need to research specific names and make sure you're targeting the appropriate person. Address the alert to a specific reporter you have already made contact with or are expecting to attend your event. Call the publication if necessary to get the correct name (and spelling) of the editor, reporter, or producer.
- Once you have the right person on the phone, have a list of talking points in front of you, to help you highlight all the important facts. Be brief and to the point. Explain why the story should be of interest — "localize and humanize." Follow-up is crucial to getting coverage, but there is a fine line between follow-up and being annoying. Be persuasive but not pushy. It may take several conversations with an outlet before they agree to send a reporter to cover your story.
- Don't be afraid to call back after regular business hours — many daily TV and newspapers have 24-hour staff and are often less harried in the early evening hours. A great way to introduce yourself is to read/watch/listen to what a reporter covers and reference it. "Hi, this is Jane from the Canine Kennel Club — I just saw the story you did on the local shelter and thought since you are interested in pet or animal-related topics, I'd call you about this idea I have..."
- Remember that you can't expect a reporter to always cover your story, and you may hear "not interested" a number of times until you get some publicity. However, each time you contact them, it reminds the reporter/assignment editor about all the positive activities your club is providing to the community. Don't be discouraged!
- It's best to select one or two people within your club to continually make contact with the media. Over time, they will begin to recognize you and eventually see you as a resource and spokesperson. They will think to call you whenever a dog-related story comes up.
- When seeking coverage for a dog show or other event, let them know that your club's experts are available to speak with them about any dog-related subject. Send the reporter a "dog-related experience" biography on each of your club's experts for future use. Reporters keep files about specific topics, which they refer to when they have a breaking story. Even though they may not want to cover the story you are pitching now, you may be called upon in the future.
Don't be intimidated or afraid to work with them. If you are honest with them and respect the fact that they are trying to do their job, you have a good chance of being treated fairly in return.