By Sheri L. Singer, President of Singer Communications
It’s always been challenging to reach journalists. Today, many journalists work remotely and the message I hear when I call them is, “You can leave a message, but I rarely work from the office and don’t check messages often.”
The newsroom landscape has changed significantly, even in the past year. Here are a few tips to help.
Be a detective. In reaching out to journalists today, you need to be a detective to find those covering your industry. Start by using a media database, resource references or the Internet. But also think outside the box. Your final list may include traditional journalists, online only editors, influencers, bloggers and podcasters.
Include bloggers. Identify a few of the bloggers that cover topics in your industry and whose opinions are well respected.
You can determine their influence in numerous ways — Who reads their blog? Do they have the ability to influence the industry? How do they influence your industry? How many people read their blog? Or you may tag them by other factors of importance to your company or organization.
Once you’ve identified these bloggers, follow them on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. There’s a possibility they may follow you in return. Be sure to share content relevant to them on these platforms.
In addition to sharing relevant information with bloggers, you may choose to pitch them. According to one source (Finn PR), 88 percent of bloggers say they expect PR practitioners to contact them, but 51 percent complained that the PR professional didn’t craft a personal pitch.
So this step is critical — before you reach out to a blogger, read some of their blogs. Develop a customized pitch or a direct message and send it to them via email or a social media platform.
When developing a message to a blogger, talk about some of the issues they have written about in the past. Let them know you have information to share that may be relevant to what they cover.
According to research by Finn PR, less than half of bloggers (41 percent) expect to be paid. But the question of charging a fee or not is completely dependent on the individual blogger. You want to ask the blogger about any fees to be certain you are clear on the details of working with that blogger.
Once you build a relationship with the blogger, you may suggest that your organization or company write a guest blog. Again, whether blog posts accept submissions from outside authors is completely up to the individual blogger.
Remember that your goal in reaching out to a blogger is most likely to build a relationship. To this end, building a relationship with a blogger is a marathon not a sprint.
Get to know an industry influencer. An influencer has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.
Every industry has influencers such as celebrities, industry experts and thought leaders, content creators such as bloggers, or micro influencers (those influencing a specific segment of your industry).
Influencers are often quoted, referenced, or interviewed in online articles, industry publications, TV/cable, radio or podcasts. For example, in the medical bioethics field, Arthur Caplan is an influencer.
Typically, when working with an influencer, you make a direct ask of what you’d like the influencer to do–recommend your company’s product, promote your association’s event, attend an event or celebration, etc.
Unlike working with a blogger, often there is a fee to work with an influencer. It may be helpful to first discuss what you expect the influencer to do before negotiating the fee. Be sure to mention any other benefits the influencer might obtain from working with your organization — getting in front of a new audience, helping a charity, etc. If the particular influencer’s fee doesn’t fit your budget, ask if they could recommend a colleague.
Consider podcasts. As of June 2019, there are 700,000 podcasts with 29M episodes according to MusicMPH that based their information on studies by Nielsen and Edison. And those numbers are predicted to increase.
Identify the podcasters in your industry and listen to those podcasts. You may want to consider trying to get your CEO or other spokesperson on the podcast by reaching out to the podcast producer or host.
If you are successful in getting your spokesperson on a podcast the most important tip is to prepare for the interview. Start by using your organization’s messages and help the spokesperson by conducting mock interviews with some softball and tougher anticipated questions. In some cases, the podcaster may ask you for questions in advance.
Let your industry community know that you will be participating in the podcast and tell them how they can listen. You may choose to record the podcast and (with the permission of the podcaster) and post a minute on your website.
Continue to share industry information with the podcaster after the podcast airs. This is about building long-term relationships, not just being a one-hit wonder.
Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the new newsroom. Have a tip that’s worked for you? Feel free to add it here.
About the Author
Sheri L. Singer is passionate about helping companies and associations solve their PR related challenges. As president of Singer Communications, she also is Chair of the American Society of Association Executives’ Healthcare Community Committee. She speaks about 15 times a year for various companies and associations on PR related topics.