While social media has altered how traditional media operates, by making multimedia and web-based content a necessity, the basic principles of media relations remain.
Different mediums have different needs and deadlines
When looking to approach the media to get your story or message out, it’s important to target the most appropriate medium – and to do so according to their specific timeframes. Here’s a quick breakdown of the interests and deadlines for print, TV, radio and online media:
Wants/needs: A news story that has conflict; controversy; scoops; exclusivity; balance; access to executives.
Characteristics: Motivated by news, trends; non-technical; skeptical of news value of straight technology stories unless there is relevance, human interest angle.
Deadlines: Same day; require immediate response; file at least one story per day, but sometimes can work on three stories in one day.
Wants/needs: Visual story; conflict, controversy; human interest; access to key executives.
Characteristics: Very non-technical; generally only cover tech stories if a personality, or human interest trend is involved.
Deadlines: Immediate. Will not cover story if company cannot fulfill need immediately.
Wants/needs: Trends; popular culture; compelling sound bytes; access to personalities.
Characteristics: Non-technical; interested in human interest trends.
Deadlines: Immediate; very brief window to communicate message.
Wants/needs: Trends; popular culture; breaking news; human interest; technology.
Characteristics: Less formal than other media types; attention grabbing; human interest; technology stories.
Deadlines: Immediate. Thanks to social media, breaking news is instant and online audiences are in control of the content they consume.
You’ll save yourself precious time and energy by ensuring that your pitches and press releases are targeted at the appropriate medium. And time-starved journalists will appreciate your providing them with relevant story ideas and content. The easier you make their jobs, the more journalists will enjoy working with you.
Rules for Digital Media
Writing for digital media should be more informal and to the point. The lengthy format of print prose doesn’t translate well on a computer, tablet or smartphone screen. Online readers are in control of the content they consume and want to be able to pick out relevant information quickly.
Email pitches are the best way to approach digital media, but don’t let the ease of this approach get the better of you. Repeatedly emailing pitches to journalists is looked upon as spam.
Remember the Five Ws and the H
Whether you’re targeting digital, TV, radio or news media, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place. The more focused your message, the more likely it will be picked up. Before you pitch, ask yourself these six questions to narrow down your message and make it media targeted:
Why am I communicating?
Who do I want to reach?
What do I want to say?
Where will I communicate the message?
When will I communicate?
How will I say it for each medium?
Develop a Media List
Just as important as knowing whether TV, radio, print or the digital is the best medium for your message, is knowing relevant media contacts in each area. The best way to stay on top of who’s who in traditional media is by developing a media list.
Start with a media source directory, such as Cision.
Your media list for print media should include:
Dailies, weeklies, magazines and trade publications.
A list of publishers, editors, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Your media list for broadcast media (radio and TV) should include:
Local, network and specialty channels.
A list of all major programs and the key personalities and station personnel, as well as addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Your media list for online media should include the same information as in print media, plus information on blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts relevant to your/your client’s industry. Most traditional print media outlets now have journalist bloggers – ask your contacts for their email addresses and Twitter handles if possible.