My colleague, Lori Johnson, was recently asked to speak to a group of college students at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Mass Communication Week. Lori’s intense media relations experience is similar to my digital marketing experience - some of the same strategies, just different medium. Her dual presentation with Sara Terry-Cobo of The Journal Record was so illuminating! They presented the right (and wrong) way for PR professionals to pitch stories to journalists. You know what they say about getting back to basics? Learning the basics of PR pitching was a great reminder of some important core concepts in digital marketing.
1.Keep it short and sweet. If two or three sentences will get the job done, for heaven’s sake don’t write four. Journalists get many emailed pitches every day and they don’t have time to read a novel. The goal is to grab their attention. The same goes for social media or email marketing, right? 40 characters is the optimal length for a Facebook post. Shorter than the previous sentence. Maybe this PR thing isn’t so different from creating digital content.
2. Is it really news? Before you send a pitch to a journalist, hopefully you already know why you’re sending it and what about it is newsworthy. The why is endlessly important. The same goes for digital media. We shouldn’t be updating social media and creating content without goals in mind. Keeping in mind the “newsworthiness” of your digital content will keep your audience from getting bored and will help you grow your following.
3. Know your audience. No, really, Lori and Sara hit home the importance of getting to know the journalists you’re pitching to. That may mean regular coffee dates! You should know a journalist’s beat, their interests and what they’ve written in the past. Isn’t that what we like to do in digital marketing? Looking at the kind of content that your online audience interacts with is a great way to determine how to plan out your future content. You may not be able to ask your target audience out for a cup of coffee to get to know them, but sometimes data can give you insight that will make your “digital pitch” successful.