Any PR and communications professional will agree that securing media interest and coverage for your faculty can been a time-consuming project. On many occasions, it can be tempting to just read the synopsis of the research they give you, draft a quick email and fire it off to a number of journalists. But this doesn’t always work.
Become familiar with the research you’re pitching
Making sure that you are familiar with the research you are pitching is key to getting the right media coverage for it. If you don’t fully understand what the research is about, there is the possibility that you can misrepresent the paper. This could lead to a backlash, and annoy both the client and the journalist.
As a PR professional, you need to be accurate with the research and when you are dealing with people who are experts in their field, it can be embarrassing to receive correction emails. The more information you have, the stronger the pitch, which then leads to more coverage. It’s a no brainer.
However, there are times where an academic’s research can be confusing, so if that’s the case, speak to the professor. Set up a phone call, they will be more than happy to talk to you about the research as it will benefit both of you in the long run. That being said, make sure before you end that phone call, that you understand everything.
Devise a clear angle for your pitch, if you do this and share it will well-researched and appropriate media outlets, you stand a much higher chance at securing great press coverage for your professor. It shows the professor’s expertise, and most importantly, represent the school in a positive manner, to the right audience.
By doing the appropriate research, you are demonstrating that you are a good PR professional and it strengthens the relationship with the journalists or editor who commissioned the article, meaning they could come back to you again. This keeps your clients happy as they are getting a good amount of coverage. It’s a win win situation.
Pitch to the right journalists
Making sure you pitch to relevant media outlets is important, you can’t just contact any journalist and expect them to be interested in what you have to say. You need to know which publications are best suited based on what they write about and their readership, you also need to ask what media outlet will benefit my client best?
This means remembering that the top tier publications aren’t always going to be the best option, sometimes due to who their target audience are, trade publications are best suited because they reach a more receptive audience.
Create a compelling email subject
Look at it from a journalist’s perspective. Let’s say this journalist focuses on management and is working to tight deadlines on several pieces, when they receive five emails (probably within the space of 20 seconds). All five of these are research, and all five are focused on why there should be more women in the boardroom, they’re highlighting these, about the delete all of them in one go, but then they spot the subject line of one of the emails. What’s this? A new angle on getting women into the boardroom?
A journalist is more likely to respond to your pitch if you have taken the time to clearly and succinctly set out the focus, the findings and the wider implications of your professor’s study. The subject line of your pitch is the most important part, you can have done a really good pitch, but if the subject line isn’t interesting then the journalist won’t look twice.
That being said, you can’t make a really good headline and then not have the research to back it up. It can appear to be very misleading and journalists will think that you are wasting their time, and worst-case scenario you could end up being blacklisted.
You need to familiarise yourself with your client’s research, do additional research if necessary and pitch to the right media organisations. Do this and you will get quality media coverage.