Why you don’t need a press release

news, news release, newspaperPR people hear this dreaded phrase from clients all the time: “We need a press release.”

No, you don’t. You need relationships, because professional relationships with media translate into stories.

Notice that I said professional relationships. The fact that your neighbor works at a TV station or magazine does not mean that your story is going to get on the air or be published, especially if your neighbor works in sales. The news business doesn’t work that way.

That’s why people hire PR professionals, experts who have longtime relationships with decision-makers such as anchors, producers, reporters and assignment editors – the people who have a say in selecting a news or feature story.

The decision-makers can vary, depending on the story you’re trying to place and the type of relationships you have. For instance, for a morning talk show, you usually pitch your idea to a producer, but if you have a great relationship with the anchor, that may be a better option.

But it’s a delicate game, and you need to know the players. Knowing what’s acceptable and what’s downright annoying requires knowledge gleaned from years spent working with journalists or – better yet – working as a journalist.

A reporting background gives you the edge, because it helps build skills (and relationships) that are useful when you join the ranks of PR pros. Having worked at daily newspapers, I not only befriended the people in my newsroom, but bonded with reporters from other media during school board meetings, news conferences, elections, fires and other stories. It was great fun.

When I became a PR person, my role changed, but the skills needed to do my job well did not. I still develop unique story ideas, come up with compelling visuals, ask probing questions and work with reporters every day.

And I still enjoy my job tremendously.

For more on media relations, visit https://piermancommunications.com/2016/06/13/how-to-succeed-at-media-relations/

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PR Tip

How to Craft a Successful TV pitch

Always remember that, when pitching the media, it’s important to consider what they want.

And what does TV news want most of all? Visuals, and lots of them.

Today’s audiences like action, and lots of it. With the advent of social media, attention spans are dwindling by the second. In order to grab and keep viewers, you have to keep offering information that is interesting and relevant.

No media outlet wants to air a static interview where you see only talking heads. Think about B-roll, background video that you can provide to help illustrate your story. Consider using statistics to create a graphic. Offer before and after photos, provide logos of your business, write bullet points that can be superimposed, or “supered,” onscreen, give them your web address, etc.

Most important, remember it’s not all about what you want. To successfully pitch a topic, consider what audiences want, and you’ll likely get the chance to tell your story.

What Sue’s Clients Say

Sue has an extraordinary ability to connect with the media. She is gifted at finding angles that appeal to news directors and reporters and is meticulous in preparing her guests for interviews. Sue worked with Stillwaters Cancer Support Services to promote our annual Hospital Food Fight fundraiser. Not only did she secure a slot for us on The Morning Blend, our target audience, but she walked us through every aspect of the interview.

Immediately after the show aired, registrations and calls were coming in. We got rave reviews for our interview skills on the show, and it was all because of Sue’s expert coaching. She also helped promote the interview and the event via social media. I can’t recommend her highly enough - her media connections, media training, writing and editing are stellar.

Theresa Reagan, Executive Director, Stillwaters Cancer Support Services, Waukesha, Wis.