Another 100 email pitches sent into the PR blackhole with no return email in sight. Is it me? Are my email pitches not engaging enough? This is an all too familiar feeling among all PR professionals. The answer: yes and yes.
Last year, public relations jobs exceeded those of reporters by more than six-to-one up from less than two-to-one 20 years ago, according to data from the U.S. Census. Mass email pitching, lack of personalization, and free product offers are no longer capturing the attention of journalists and hurting your PR pitch success rate.
Time to hit the refresh button. Here are five ways to increase your PR pitch success rate.
Public Relations Reality
Journalism, although arguably one of the most important jobs, especially today, is dwindling down at a rapid pace. What were once buildings filled with eager personalities rushing to cover the next story locally, nationally, or internationally, are now empty with one journalist running to cover all three.
According to Bloomberg, there are now 6.4 public relations specialists for every news reporter. As the public relations profession continues to grow, the same can not be said for the journalism industry.
With this statistic in mind, it’s time to get creative and thoughtful with your pitching. Just as you wouldn’t approach a stranger in real-life with a favor right away, the same concept can be applied to journalists that you’re pitching. As opposed to coming in hot with a favor to ask, tread softly and get to know them online in the same way you would get to know someone offline. Follow them on Twitter, engage with their posts, and share their stories. When the time comes to pitch, you can bet your name will ring a bell.
Tailoring Your PR Pitches
Dear Jessica,— Jessica Huseman (@JessicaHuseman) October 18, 2018
Just following up on the three emails I've sent about a topic you don't remotely cover. Would you like to schedule a time to have coffee in the middle of election season? We are such fans of your work on this subject, on which you've never written.
Unless you handle PR for one of the Kardashians, mass email pitches are the absolute perfect way to ensure your pitches never get read, let alone opened. Remember that feeling you get when you walk into a store looking for a specific product and the salesperson is giving you every other option under the sun beside the one product you actually need? That’s the life of a journalist.
Take the time to research the topic that the journalist actually writes about. Read their articles to get a feel for the type of content they write for their audience and gauge whether they would even be remotely inclined and intrigued to write a piece on your pitch.
#PRTip: In your email pitch, reference an article that the journalist has previously written that led you to believe they would be the perfect person to write about your topic. This is a simple, but a thoughtful gesture that will capture the journalists' attention.
Targeting Your Audience for Publicity
Pay to play used to be taboo in public relations, but given that the industry has significantly evolved with the introduction of social media, pay to play is now fair game.
With the abundance of content created every day, it's sometimes a challenge to get your content in front of people, let alone the right ones. Take for example Twitter. Journalists are the largest, most active verified group of people on Twitter. Working in PR, this is pure gold. Another avenue that can help you get closer to securing that placement or coverage for your client.
For one, you can target by keyword or specific hashtag. I once spent $25 promoting a tweet with a specific hashtag (#FIFAgate), and ended up getting 40,000 paid impressions (plus an additional 15,000 free impressions). As an unexpected bonus: my tweet was featured in an article rounding up the best tweets about #FIFAgate," said Larry Kim, founder of Mobile Monkey, Wordstream and known for his growth hacking success in gaining exposure for his brands.
Social ads are not the enemy, but rather another weapon in your PR arsenal. Use them to increase your PR pitch success rate.
#PRTip: Turn that press release into a blog post and several social media messages. Put some ad spend behind that Tweet to target journalists who cover that particular subject matter.
Sharing The Love When You Don’t Need Something
Remember that friend who only reaches out when they need something? How annoyed do you get? The same concept can be applied when you're cold-pitching journalists.
Take the time to build a relationship with the journalists before you randomly jump into their inbox. Something so simple such as retweet on one of their stories, or a 👏🏼 emoji responding to their content can go a long way. Journalists are not only under a lot of pressure to write great stories, but to also gain traction with them online. When the time comes to pitch your story, your name will ring a bell.
Increasing your PR pitch success rate is just a matter of taking time to strategize. As PR professionals, a big chunk of your career is helping clients come up with the best strategy, and now it's time to use those strategic tactics to your advantage.
If you're looking for more Social PR tips, book a strategy call with us today!