It’s no secret that most media members can’t stand unsolicited outreach from public relations professionals. Whether they’re added to a company’s email blast list (which in my humble opinion should be illegal), blindly peppered with press releases or incessantly emailed about every little thing a brand does, most press consider it spam and ignore it.
But there still comes time when your PR team needs to reach out to media members you don’t have relationships with. Whether you’re a new company, have a new product that serves a different audience or are expanding into a new geographic market, you occasionally do have to “cold call” the media.
In my experience the best way to do this and make headway with the targeted media member is to approach it from a minimalist perspective.
No one likes to feel used. So don’t pitch on the first outreach. Introduce yourself via email or even a short phone call or voice mail. My example:
“Hey (Reporter’s Name),
I’m working with Red e App and wanted to just touch base with you to make sure you knew who they were and that I can be of service should you need anything from them on internal communications or tech solutions for the workforce. Love to chat sometime. Here’s my contact information.”
That’s it. Short, sweet, gives them enough information to research the client if they are curious, is non-invasive or forceful. If they aren’t interested and tell you so, take them off your list. Hopefully, they will respond and ask for more information or to set at time to talk. But be prepared for no response, too.
Now that you’ve established who you are and why you might reach out, you can pitch, provided you’ve not yet been told not to do so. But respect their time and availability. Keep it simple and short.
“Hello again (Reporter’s name),
Red e App continues to grow and it made me think your audience might be enlightened by some of the facts around how many hourly and non-desk workers there are in the U.S. and how much business success is tied to these hourly workers. I can help source some interviews with Red e App or even others if that’s of interest. Let me know if I can set up a call for you to chat with Jonathan Erwin (Red e App’s CEO.”
It makes an offer, spells out a specific angle, but is suggestive and helpful, not aggressive or forceful. Even if the reporter has never responded, there’s not a lot of chance they’ll be upset with something attempting to help.
While follow-up pitches are probably in-bounds, I like to assume a non-response means they aren’t really interested. But if they haven’t said they just aren’t interested or don’t want my emails, I simply put the reporter on my list of folks to touch base with. And example:
“Hello again (Reporter’s name),
Just a quick point if you have a second. Red e App CEO Jonathan Erwin penned an interesting opinion piece that was published in the local business weekly in Louisville. (LINK). Thought you would enjoy his perspective on how the disenfranchisement of the hourly employee is responsible for the growing economic divide the politicians are bickering about.
Still love to help you with a story about the non-desk/hourly workers and how big of an audience is being underserved by the business community. Let me know if I can help!”
These nominal check-ins are just a way of staying in the mindset of the reporter. Again, if they respond with a “not interested,” then remove them and move on. But you never know when a reminder like that will lead to a response asking for more information or even an interview.
The Bottom Line
Reporters don’t have time to read 500-word emails, press releases or pitches. Part of building a relationship with them is respecting their time and their inbox. Taking a minimalist approach to PR pitching can sometimes do wonders in cracking that cold call code.
Need more help with media relations? We would love to chat about it. Let us know if we can help.