By Anne Stanley
Building strong, long-term relationships is key to being successful in public relations. Here at Engage, we pride ourselves on putting emphasis on the “R” in “PR.” That’s why we recently paid a visit to the KTVU studio in Jack London Square, which is about a 15 minute walk from our office. While there, we had the opportunity to pick the brain of Amber Eikel, Assistant News Director and our tour guide for the day. She shared some of her top tips for PR professionals looking to place their clients on local news channels. Here are some of the key takeaways:
Pick up the phone
The best way to pitch for television is to get someone on the phone. News directors, producers and anchors are constantly bogged down by hundreds of emails day in and day out so the odds of your pitch getting lost in the mess is pretty high. If you don’t know your target’s personal number or extension, your best bet is to call the news desk and ask for your contact by name. Once you get your contact on the phone, be sure to reference past materials and trends they’ve covered to show that you’ve done your homework and know they are the right person to hear your pitch. They’re more likely to respond favorably to your pitch if they know you didn’t reach out to them just because they work at the station.
Think local, but not too local
Local stories don’t necessarily have to involve geographically local companies. As long as the story is relevant to local audiences and/or reflects broader trends that will impact the general viewership, local news stations will be open to your pitch. Advances in technology and communications continue to make the world a smaller and more connected place, making “local” news increasingly more important to broader audiences across the country. So don’t scrap that pitch just because your client is on the other side of country. Try to find the larger picture and explain in your pitch why local audiences would care.
Ask for feedback
You did everything right, or so you thought. You got your contact on the phone, you pitched them a story that local audiences would care about, you offered additional materials and you followed up in a timely manner without being irritating. But no coverage resulted! Before you start making assumptions about why your pitch was a flop, reach out to your contact and ask why the story didn’t work for them and what you can do better next time. They may not respond, but if they do, take their feedback and apply it the next time you pitch them. They will appreciate the fact that you’ve taken their advice to heart and it will help strengthen your relationship.
As with any other type of media, each news station has their own preferences when it comes to the pitching process and the stories they like to cover. It’s important to take the time to build your relationships with local producers and news directors in order to learn about those preferences, which is one way Engage PR is able to continually deliver stellar results to our clients. Whether it’s scheduling an office-wide field trip to your local station, or sending a quick Tweet commending a reporter on a recent story, showing that you’re not just a pitching machine will increase your chances of successfully placing your clients on local news programs.
Do you have any stories about how you successfully pitched a local broadcast outlet? Share your tips and tricks with us on Twitter at @EngagePR or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Now get out there and pitch!