Save time, face by simplifying media relations

I'm busy, you're busy. We're all trying our best to do so much more, working to tighter deadlines and on a smaller budget.

I'm busy, you're busy. We're all trying our best to do so much more, working to tighter deadlines and on a smaller budget.

Regardless of the area we specialize in, our success as public relations professionals is still largely determined by how well – and how efficiently – we handle media relations. The tricky part of managing this area of our portfolio is that seemingly small missteps can cost you time, money, and, most importantly, valuable contacts. That's why it's important to observe these 10 tips - here are the first three - consistently to keep out of trouble.

1. Before you make contact, know who you're contacting. If you approach a publication for the first time by calling or emailing every reporter in the building, you're not only reducing your likelihood of coverage by angering everyone, you're completely wasting your time and your firm's money. Do your homework first.

2. Don't guess at the best way to make contact. Every reporter is different. Some prefer to be called, some only respond to email, and some even prefer to get a physical envelope in their snail mailbox. The old cliché about assuming anything definitely applies here. Find out what's expected first, or at best you'll just spin your wheels, and at worst you'll ruin a good relationship before it even starts.

3. Be clear about what you're pitching. Reporters hate getting emails that are just forwarded press releases, and they really hate being called by people who clearly aren't familiar with the company or news they are announcing or pitching. The brutal reality is that you have about 30 seconds to make your case, and if you can't, you're wasting your time and theirs.

By bringing your “A game” to each media pitch you make, not only are you more likely to secure the coverage you want, you're also laying the foundations for solid working relationships with key journalists for years to come.

Rebecca Derrington is founder of SourceBottle, a free online service that connects sources with journalists.

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