I have been working professionally in Indianapolis public relations since the early 1990s. A lot has changed in my work with the media. I hear clients say, boy my paper is thin. The next breath is the question: Why am I not included in this article?
The following is a reality check for all of us, including me. I am fortunate that I’ve created some great relationships with reporters over the years. They are really great people who work hard with less every day. During recent discussions with several reporters, here’s what they’ve had to say:
200 email pitches a day: Yes, that’s right—200! Think about your inbox for a second. You work hard to get back to everyone and keep it cleaned out. (Honestly it’s a personal goal of mine to keep a clean inbox in 2013.) So when you wonder why you don’t hear back from a reporter, chances are you are probably down, down, down deep in their inbox.
Beats that include everything but the kitchen sink: Reporters are asked to cover large geographic territories these days. Think of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s North of 96th. Andrea Davis works the following communities: Zionsville, Carmel, Westfield, Fishers, Noblesville. She depends on people to keep her updated on what’s making news. That doesn’t always mean you’ll be in the news today. It means you’re on her radar. Be patient. She’s a thinker. She’ll figure out how to use you as a source or resource.
Multiple platforms are a must: I remember the old days in Indianapolis media relations. There was a morning and an afternoon newspaper and lots of print media along with radio/tv. Reporters took a lot of time and did due diligence on every story. Those days are gone. It’s about Twitter, Facebook and getting information onto the website now. I see typos and misspellings due to the rush. The newspaper is not the place to get the news of the day anymore. Sad but true.
Time is at a minimum: This means if you promise a reporter a byline, interview or piece of information—get it right the first time. These professionals are doing so much with so little in their daily work, they have no patience for sources that cannot get it right the first time. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. You will be black balled from their list of contacts for future interviews and discussions.
Ask yourself: why would this person care about me? Another harsh truth—unless you are part of a trend, offer something sexy or fit the story they have to turn in within an hour, they don’t. Sometimes it’s better to send a quick introduction and offer yourself as a source or resource when the time is right. Give your cell number. The day you get the call—call back within minutes. Again—time is at a minimum. You can’t wait til tomorrow to return a media call when the reporter’s deadline is right now.
Here’s the reality. If you really, really want to work with reporters, find a good public relations firm or practitioner who can walk you through the ins and the outs. We’re the professionals who know these reporters personally and professionally. We know what reporters want, when they want it and how to deliver the information. You’ll be respected and become a resource long into the future.