Journalists don’t tend to simply sit around, waiting for a story to come to them. They are often focusing on particular viewpoints or angles and are more reliant on areas like their audience and engagement than we might think.
During Covid, business owners across the world have had to change their plan of attack when it comes to media engagement. They have become masters at using conferencing software like Zoom rather than meeting journalists in ‘real life’.
One challenge remains for anyone talking to a journalist during a media interview, however. Getting that all-important point of view across and giving your interviewer the right amount of information is critical. Effective training and preparation is key to getting this right for your organisation and the team at Hawkeye Media can help you with this.
Getting the right pitch
Contact with a journalist often starts with a pitch – where the business sends out a press release or other information, a bit like fishing to see who bites. The trouble is that the vast majority of these pitches, at least according to the journalists themselves, are either irrelevant or poorly constructed which means they quickly get deleted and forgotten.
- It is important to do your homework before you send out any pitch – doing so gives you a greater chance of being noticed and someone inviting you to talk over the phone or on zoom.
- Often, companies and PR departments fail to do their homework and don’t have all the information the journalist needs to hand.
- Timing is also important. Most journalists prefer to receive any pitches at the beginning of the week so that they can better manage their time.
Timing and availability
Two other factors can have an influence here. The first is timing. Some journalists prefer to not be contacted at all but, if you are planning to reach out, then making it around midday is usually the best bet.
The other factor is your availability. If your pitch works and the journalist wants to contact you, then make every effort to ensure that you are available when they need you to be.
Our 4 top tips
Getting it right requires hard work and practice along with doing your homework. There are some basic things, however, that you need to get right in any press release or pitch:
- Get straight to the point. There’s no room for waffle when it comes to press releases. If you have a point to make, then put it front and centre of your piece.
- Journalists love a human example and how a story affects the ‘man in the street’ so the more you can deliver this the better your chance of being noticed in a bunch of communications and then getting that availability call.
- Accuracy is paramount, especially if you are including facts and figures for the journalist. You also need to be sure that you can explain any statistics and answer potentially awkward questions surrounding them.
- Journalists will often use content from a press release without editing or adding their own work. Make sure that your PR is not only engaging but well written too.
The key here is to see the world from the journalist’s point of view as much as possible. Ensure that the information you send them is relevant, well-written and timely. Mix this with great media training when you get to talk to a journalist, and you will be on the front foot and in control of telling your story the way you want it to be told.