During the holidays people are overwhelmed with crowds, advertisements and flashy window displays telling us to buy, buy, buy. Kicking off the holiday season with Halloween, department stores across the country are trying to cut through the clutter. This holiday season, my account team and I are working with Fred Meyer to stand out amongst the noise.
Last week, my team had our first conference call with Amanda Ip, our Public Affairs Specialist at Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers, to discuss potential media pitches for the upcoming holiday season. We came up with some exciting ways to engage the local Eugene media; yet we were stumped on how to effectively pitch our stories.
I decided to reach out to Kathryn Thier—former reporter and communications professional—who teaches Journalism and PR at University of Oregon. She offered me some great advice on how to pitch to the media. Here are some of her tips:
- Establish Trust: The first step of effective PR pitching is building trust with the reporter. Before you can begin thinking about pitching to the media, it’s vital for PR practitioners to establish trust over time by showing the journalist you’re a credible source with valuable information. Once a reporter knows you’re an ethical PR practitioner, he or she is much more likely to consider sharing your stories with the media.
- Know Your Reporter: Just because you establish trust with a specific reporter, doesn’t mean he or she is going to publish your story. The key to pitching is relevancy—knowing what reporters cover what types of stories. From there, you can tailor your pitch to the right reporter or journalist.
- Plan in Advance: Holidays are a tough time for media because of reduced staff and vacation time; therefore, planning ahead during the holiday season is especially important. The good news is that the holidays are generally dull news times, meaning that PR practitioners can capitalize on media opportunities by providing stories in advance. Think about pitching evergreen stories (stories that can run anytime and aren’t time sensitive), covering news holes during slower news months.
- Be Creative: In order to shine, PR practitioners should have some fun with their pitching angles. During the holidays, charity and fundraising events appeal to larger audiences and provide awesome material for pitches. The key is spinning these stories in a creative way, and getting your idea to stand out.
Remember that pitching isn’t just about your relationship with reporters, but their relationship with their editors as well. By understanding your reporter and the hierarchal structure of how the media work, PR practitioners have a much better chance of getting their stories media attention.
– Nikki Maroney is a young public relations professional with a passion for people and the great outdoors. Majoring in public relations and minoring in Business administration at the University of Oregon, her enthusiasm for writing and engaging with others continues to draw her toward the multifaceted profession of PR. After graduation she’s excited to pursue a career in the PR outdoor and recreational industry.