Not just rock stars go out on tour in the summer. Public relations professionals can do it too!
In my current position, we pitch stories in several markets because we serve 19 counties in Florida. While we pitch over the phone throughout the year as well as send press releases, raw footage and media fact sheets via email or Dropbox to our media contacts, our most important and effective meetings with media that result in placement are face-to-face. Even though we live in a digital age, building working relationships with media are always strengthened by taking the time to greet one another in person.
Each summer we carve out blocks of time to visit key media contacts in each of our markets. This can be a bit cumbersome to manage schedules, so we always remain flexible to make our Summer PR Tour work. We include television, radio and print media, and we bring story pitches customized for each market and each media channel with us.
During the year, we keep media logs of all press releases we submit and track the earned media value. Toward the end of the second quarter, we assess where we have received coverage and which markets need more attention. Before we hit the road, we have a strategy meeting about the stories we can pitch to specific reporters. We vet the story ideas first by making the initial calls to interview subjects to assess their comfort level of being interviewed, gather the preliminary research so that we have a solid story and customize the pitch to the intended reporter. Make your Summer PR Tour meetings short – about 15 or 20 minutes — and rehearse your pitches. Make the angle work for what the reporter is looking to cover and make the subject compelling for their readers and viewers.
Always remember to value the reporter’s time. Pitch a good story with a timely element that is relevant for their readers. Make it easy for the reporter to share your story. Shepherd them through the process. For us, many times the reporter needs to work with the local volunteer coordinator or administrator to arrange for photo shoots or interviews. Be there with solutions to get the reporter the story, interviews, photos or video opportunities.
The best way to pitch is to have a press release already written accompanied by high-resolution photographs to present to print reporters, just in case they don’t have time to cover it or do an interview. For broadcast, prepare raw footage and a media fact sheet for your pitches. Often assignment desks will take a look if they think the story is compelling but don’t have time to come out and do the interview themselves.
Building trust, offering reliable information and pitching compelling stories for readers and viewers are the keys to a successful PR Summer Tour. While we find ourselves in a digital world, stopping by and just introducing yourself will help both you and the reporter build a working relationship. Don’t have time for your own Summer PR Tour? Join FPRA Gainesville for their annual Media Breakfast on Thursday, July 27 starting at 7:30 a.m. at Haven Hospice E.T. York Care Center in Gainesville. Meet members of the media face-to-face and network with other public relations professionals. For more information, please visit www.fpragainesville.org. Do you work in other markets around Florida? Check in with FPRA for other chapter locations who offer opportunities to meet media.
By Patricia Krogh
Patricia Krogh currently serves on the FPRA Gainesville Chapter Board as the director of communications and has been the manager of public relations and communications for Haven Hospice since 2013.