What NEVER to do When Targeting the Media

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1 A CISION EXECUTIVE WHITE PAPER What NEVER to do When Targeting the Media A QUICK GUIDE TO CONTACTING JOURNALISTS MOST EFFECTIVELY Media Intelligence. Communication Insights.

2 Ask most PR professionals to describe their job and they ll probably answer We help create awareness, influence public attitudes and, hopefully, change behavior, or perhaps more simply stated many might say, We help improve our organization s or client s corporate reputation. One aspect of their job that everyone takes for granted but rarely gets mentioned, is how absolutely essential targeting the correct media and in turn the correct audiences is to a successful campaign and a positive relationship with the press. While most PR professionals understand this basic principle of media relations, most would say they don t always have time to target as effectively as they should and take more of a when in doubt, send the release perspective. If there is one key message you should take away from this paper it is, When in doubt do NOT send the release! If you as a PR person cannot quickly explain why the story you are pitching is important to the specific audience of the journalist being pitched then don t make the call and don t send the release. Cision receives hundreds of calls a week from reporters that are frustrated by this when in doubt approach. Most PR people are not aware of the damage this type of targeting causes to the PR industry, to the organization or client they are promoting, and to their personal reputation. When in doubt do NOT send the release! First and foremost, PR professionals serve as match-makers between organizational messages, the media and their audiences. Targeting the right outlet and the right reporter at that outlet is essential to successfully reaching the desired audience. If as a PR pro you fail to correctly target the media and reporters with story ideas that are a good match, not only do you hurt your chance of receiving any coverage, you also potentially damage your reputation with those media outlets as an organization and a PR contact. The chance of building a relationship with these reporters becomes more challenging as a result. However, when you take the time to research the right reporters and provide the correct information, then it s likely you will hit a home run and achieve the coverage you desire, and, just as importantly, will more likely begin a rewarding, long-term relationship with a key journalist. With that in mind, the goal of this paper is to emphasize traditional tactics of targeting and why it is so important to rethink and reinforce the basics. Why is targeting so important to the success of a PR campaign? We decided to ask the reporters, who will ultimately decide whether your story will be seen by their subscribers, or whether it will never become more than an idea discussed at your internal PR meeting. We ll share specific tips and techniques, straight from the journalists and Cision media experts, on how you can be more effective in targeting journalists and getting the coverage your stories deserve. First of all, what is targeting and why do so many PR professionals fail to do it well? Targeting involves researching the best journalists for a particular story using several criteria such as the reporter s beat, location, writing style, their role at the publication and, perhaps most important, the target audience of the journalist. Ask a PR person why they often skip over this type of research and instead will send out the infamous blast or shotgun s to hundreds of reporters that are not appropriate for their story and you ll hear If I contact a lot of people, the chances are better that I ll get more responses or I don t have time to research everyone s background and beat. It won t hurt to send out more s rather than less. While most PR people have improved their efforts to target the media and refrain from an all out blast approach it still takes place in a more limited form due to the when in doubt send mentality. But ask journalists what is the number one reason they do not cover stories that are pitched to them and they say, Poor targeting. Inadequate targeting does indeed do harm to any PR campaign, and to any attempt at establishing a relationship with a reporter. Don t make it a numbers game, advises David Strom, Editor-in-Chief of Tom s Hardware Guide. Strom is an experienced technology journalist with two published books and thousands of technical articles to his name, along with launching several print and Web-based publications including Network Computing magazine and the DesignLine series of Web sites for CMP and the Connectivity section for PC Week magazine for Ziff-Davis. 2007, Cision Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 2

3 Adds Strom, It s not about how many editors you ve contacted or how many have responded. It s about building a relationship with me so that I can trust that you will deliver a great story with the resources I need. The fact of the matter is that everyone is under more pressure journalists as well as PR professionals. Both have more work to do with much less time. Ask a journalist how their job has changed and you learn that their staff has shrunk significantly. They no longer have copy editors and proof editors to control input and output. Their staff consists of only a couple of editors and support staff. With in-boxes now clogged with hundreds of s a day, many reporters tell us they are spending upwards of three hours a day just reading s, many of them untargeted and irrelevant to them. With a reduced staff and increased PR contacts, they are striving to find ways to be more efficient, but instead are faced with untargeted s and phone calls that are harming their ability to do their jobs. Many editors, like Ernest Worthman, Editorial Director for Fiber Optic Technology and Wireless Design, have resorted to blacklisting certain PR contacts who continue to send them unrelated news simply because he is on their distribution list and they won t make the effort to remove his name. As a result, any s from these PR contacts go straight into the trash, unread. The more s you send to me that are not correctly targeted, the less responsive I can be to one that is. PR people need to understand that I have to be highly efficient in order to do my job. If you want to work with me, you need to make me more efficient, advises Worthman. The more s you send to me that are not correctly targeted, the less responsive I can be to one that is. Ernest Worthman So, what do journalists really want from you? We heard the same response over and over: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. So, how can you do a better job of targeting that will increase coverage and establish relationships with the right journalists? Here s what they said, and here s how Cision can help. 1. UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Before you start compiling lists of outlets or reporters, think about your story and who your target audience is. For example, is the buyer of your product or service a CEO, an entry-level staffer, or a soccer mom? Where do they live and travel? Think about the type of media that will best reach this audience print, online, TV or radio. Once you have determined the profile of the audience you want to reach through the media, you can start your media research. 2. RESEARCH THE OUTLETS. I receive s every day about technology I simply don t cover, says Ernest. Please do your research and don t send me junk that is out of my area of interest. There are many different criteria you can use to search through hundreds of media outlets beat, location, format are just a few. Many PR professionals have access to automated tools that help them dig deep into many levels of research. If you are using Cision s premium media database, for example, you can search on 3,000 beats including some very specialized beats for a highly targeted search. Also, think about where your audience lives and travels. They may reside in Texas but spend every other week traveling to New York surrounded by the New York media outlets. Is your current customer base mostly in the Northeast but your sales team is trying to attract new customers in the Midwest? 2007, Cision Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 3

4 Do you want to target by city or by DMA? Using Cision, you can search by city to see the contact s address. For instance, if you search Los Angeles, Cision will look for any contact that is located in Los Angeles. If you search by DMA, you re searching any contact whose Outlet Headquarters is based in the Los Angeles market area. This will include Los Angeles proper, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Orange County. The best way to think of DMA is to think of radio stations. Do people in Orange County listen to Los Angeles radio stations? Sure, so they re a part of the Los Angeles DMA. Next, think about the kind of story you have and the format it requires. Is it breaking news that needs to be covered by 24/7 news outlets? Or is it a longer, feature story that requires more space and attention from its readers? These questions will help you determine which outlets will best tell your story and reach the right audiences. 3. SELECT THE RIGHT REPORTERS Once you ve compiled your list of publications, your next job is to research which journalists to contact. Don t send the same pitch to all 25 editors at a publication (something many editors say happens all of the time) Read their past articles, understand their different beats, and look at their writing style. There is no excuse for poor research with the availability of internet searching and today s PR tools, states an editor at a popular on-line technology publication. Take the time to see what I m covering and what I m interested in. Take the time to understand the internal structure of the publication instead of sending the same to multiple reporters. Let s say you want to search Telecommunication reporters and writers using Cision s media database Beats are broken down into different categories, so if you search a category like Technology, you can drill into the Technology subcategories (Telecommunications being one of them). Checking Telecommunications will search all of the Beats under that sub-category, or you could drill-down even further. With Cision, you can also quickly view lists based on beat, outlet or editorial calendar opportunity. For example, opening an Outlet or EdCal list in the contacts screen will allow you to view the contacts associated with Outlets or EdCals saved on the list. Let s say you want to target specific outlets in the telecommunications market. You can build a list of those publications first in the Outlet screen. When your list is finished, save it. Now go into the Contacts screen and select your essential criteria for individuals, as well as the Outlet list. Results will only reflect Contacts that work at those key Telecom Outlets. If you search an EdCal list in the Contacts screen you re going to find the contacts that are responsible for a particular EdCal opportunity. If you have done your homework but still aren t sure if your information will be relevant to a particular reporter, just ask, says Worthman. If your topic may be a little out of my area of interest, just send a quick note saying I m not sure about this, are you interested? Introduce yourself with a two-line and ask What are your guidelines and what information do you want to receive? he suggests. Some media services today, such as Cision, provide customized, automatic notification of media changes. When a journalist changes titles or moves to another outlet, you are alerted right away and can make the adjustments to your campaign outreach. 4. WRITING THE PITCH First, be concise. The subject line better tell me what I need to know, warned one reporter. I want to see the name of the product, company and subject in the subject line. Second, be prepared. When you are sending me an , think about how you can use it to build a relationship with me, not just to send me a press release, said Strom. Have an interesting story prepared, and have every detail ready, such as the CEO available and the product ready to ship. If I can trust that you will deliver the goods when you contact me, then I ll give you my time. 2007, Cision Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 4

5 If you are contacting the media with a press release, or even just a story idea, you should have the right spokesperson available and the necessary product information lined up. If you are suggesting a story that needs to include opinions from several different people, have their contact information and availability ready for the editor. If you are trying to have your product tested by the magazine, make sure your product is ready to ship on a moment s notice. If you need a customer s involvement, make sure the customer is easy to reach and willing to make the extra effort. Finally, consider the use of the latest technology to immediately inform your target group of editors by making your press releases and other communications available as an RSS feed. This will increase the odds of your communication being seen by the journalist. Of course, this is only an option once a relationship with the editor has been established, but RSS will make it easier to maintain that contact moving forward. We hope these tips from leading editors will help you to improve your targeting and ultimately improve your campaign results. Be thoughtful about your target audience, and invest the time in being selective of the editors and journalists you contact. The more selective you are, the better you will be at building relationships with the editors that will reward you tenfold for your efforts. We at Cision are doing everything we can to help you with your targeting efforts, and to be a part of your successes throughout your career. CISION US, INC. 332 SOUTH MICHIGAN AVE. CHICAGO, IL US.CISION.COM CISION CANADA INC FERRAND DRIVE TORONTO, ON M3C 3E CA.CISION.COM 2007, Cision Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 5

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