Pitching Success Stories from PR Pros in the Trenches

Public relations pros know how tough it can be out there in the media pitching trenches.

Just check Twitter any day of the week. You’ll see PR folks lamenting the fact that their pitches got little or no response from reporters.

You’ll also see journalists complaining about how the pitches they receive miss the mark. Check #PRfail or @SmugJourno for some of the most glaring examples.


As neither side seems to be happy with the state of media relations, what should PR pros do?

There are webinars, classes, articles and books on how to improve your media relations skills and how to better pitch story ideas. But what really works?

To find out, we asked some PR pros in the media relations business to share their success stories. Here are a few examples.

Research Matters

Tiffany Woo, account executive at NRPR in Los Angeles, credits research for her earned media win with Inc. magazine on behalf of a client in the health and wellness space.

Woo, who was working on an event featuring a panel of influencers, used LinkedIn to research journalists based in Los Angeles until she found the ideal reporter. Then, she did her homework by thoroughly reading the reporter’s coverage before sending her a personalized invitation to the event. She also offered the journalist the opportunity to try the client’s device.

The reporter did try it, and she also attended the event, where Woo made sure she got access to the client company’s CEO for an interview. Afterward, Woo followed up to ensure the reporter had all the resources and answers she needed.

The result was this piece of coverage in Inc. “I’m glad to have made such a great contact through diligent work, research and making sure she knew I cared about her,” says Woo.

Don’t Overlook Social Media for Opportunities

Paula Hutchings, director at Marketing Vision Consultancy in the UK, found success when she responded to a Twitter #journorequest.

“I made use of Twitter’s ‘Latest’ feature when I responded to the reporter’s #journorequest, making the process efficient and enabling me to respond in a timely manner,” Hutchings said.

The reporter tweeted that she was looking for examples of unusual ways entrepreneurs handle the stress of starting and running a business.

Hutchings sent her a pitch via email, keeping it succinct with bullet points that later became the quote featured in the journalist’s piece in Forbes, The stress-busting secrets of successful entrepreneurs. When the article appeared, Hutchings shared it via social media and thanked the journalist.

Get Local

Katie Wolitarsky, a digital PR specialist for Workshop Digital in Richmond, VA, shared her approach to reach bloggers to help get the message out for a local client.

By searching for the local city hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, Wolitarsky was able to target bloggers who aligned with a health and wellness focus.

Once she found the bloggers to target, she wrote a pitch offering them the chance to experience the client’s services firsthand. The bloggers who expressed interest were able to post photos and document their visits.

This blogger outreach resulted in a blog post with photos and a positive review of the practice, including an Instagram post.

“Now that we’ve worked together and met in person, we’ve laid a good foundation for the relationship with this blogger that will help us for future opportunities,” said Wolitarsky.

Best Practices for Pitching Success

PR Takeaways:

  • Do your homework: No longer is it enough to shoot off a quick email to just any reporter. Use a tool like Meltwater’s media database to help with research to segment journalists by beat, location, interests, etc…
  • Customize your pitches: Be sure to write your pitch with a specific reporter in mind, tailoring it to his or her beat and audience.
  • Use social media: Many journalists use social media to find sources to source stories and are frequently online.
  • Follow up: Remember to follow up with the journalist after an interview to make sure they have what they need.
  • Don’t forget about local media: Remember that a local reporter or blogger’s story will appear online—and consumers search online first for services they need.
  • Share the article: Once it appears, share the piece on social media and remember to thank the journalist.

To increase your chances of success when pitching journalists, download our on-demand webinar: The Good, the Bad, and the Best: What We Learned from Analyzing Thousands (and Thousands) of PR Pitches.

Five reasons PR Professionals should be moving to mobile

Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and portable computers are today, among the most popular tools for online interaction and human communication. Their compact and moveable nature, as well as unprecedented capabilities allow us to communicate with family and friends, colleagues, and even strangers instantaneously – fundamentally shifting the way we converse, share and distribute information.

For the PR industry, mobile communication has not only made daily tasks like monitoring the media and distributing press releases easier and more convenient, it has also completely altered the way we communicate with each other and our stakeholders.

From client and media relations to audience engagement and competitor analysis, mobile devices like smartphones allow us to communicate in real-time – sharing branded messages and content with consumers, customers and clients quickly and efficiently. With analysis software, we can also receive up-to-date insights about our online audiences – informing strategy and measuring success to improve our future campaigns.

If you haven’t already, here are five reasons to make the move to mobile:

1. It’s where the journalists are

Today’s journalists have abandoned email. Instead, they monitor conversations and industry trends on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn in order to find relevant story ideas in real-time. These channels also allow them to gather insights from the general public quickly and efficiently – using their opinions or social commentary to boost their story’s credibility.

To get a journalist’s attention today, PR professionals will need to engage with them online – and distribute press releases privately on social media. Direct messaging on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram will increase your chances of being noticed in a crowded market and might result in better media coverage for your brand. However, remember to keep your messages relevant, to-the-point and professional at all times.

2. It’s easier to engage with influencers

Influencers such as bloggers, vloggers and socialites attract large audiences because of their expertise or opinions on particular topics. These key leaders are mostly active online – using photos, videos and copy to tell their stories. This means you’ll need to be mobile too in order to attract them to your brand.

If you can show them that you understand their personal brand and that you’re using the same platform to build it, crafting a genuine relationship with them will be much easier. As your relationship grows, these influencers can also become brand ambassadors or even unpaid raving fans.

3. You can monitor much faster – often in real-time

To survive, grow and succeed in a global and digital market, PR professionals will need to use mobile devices like smartphones throughout the day – and be on call 24/7. With media monitoring software like Meltwater, you can have access to real-time updates and have them delivered direct to your smartphone or other devices – ensuring you never miss an opportunity to promote your brand, or uncover new insights about your audience.

4. You can respond to crisis at lightning speed

Being mobile enables you to respond to a crisis (often taking place online and on social) at lightning speed. Reply to DMs, make a post addressing the issue, or retweet branded messages to totally avert a crisis – or at least take control of the situation as it unfolds – with the click of a button. A mobile-savvy social media command centre will also help to keep your brand in (or out) of the spotlight, depending on the desired outcome.

5. You’ll be there when news breaks – or as it’s breaking

Because journalists are using mobile platforms more than any other – news often breaks on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook before primetime news outlets. In fact, newspapers and 6pm news shows often relay yesterday’s news in more depth, instead of actually breaking it to the public for the first time.

Being present on platforms that are mobile-friendly will give you access to industry news as it breaks. Just like journalists, you can monitor social media on your smartphone to uncover emerging trends, or potentially damaging news stories before they hit mainstream media – giving you the ability to act fast and take advantage of every opportunity.

About the author:

Mimrah Mahmood is the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, where he helps numerous organisations break down media data (social, print and other), to create meaningful insights; build progressive and scientific frameworks to track efforts in PR and marketing; build road-maps to improve communications plans; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors.

As a leader within a multi-award winning company, Mimrah is a proud advocate of better measurement practices in PR, Brand and Strategic Communications. You can connect with Mimrah on LinkedIn https://sg.linkedin.com/in/mimrah

 

Want to find out how Meltwater can help deliver brand insights and competitive intelligence for your company? Click below!

5 Ways PR Pros Can Take Advantage of the Facebook Algorithm Change

Facebook has recently made some significant changes to the News Feed algorithm.

If your business relies heavily on Facebook to generate engagement, drive product awareness, and bring in new leads, these changes will have an impact on your organic page reach.

What Is Changing in Your Facebook News Feed?

With this update, Facebook is planning on prioritizing posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” What this means is that Pages are going to see “reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease.”

According to Facebook, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” Those who use “engagement-bait” to drive comments will be demoted in the Feed.

Now that your Page updates are getting pushed further down the Feed in favor of personal updates and you can’t ask for shares or comments, what can you do?

5 Features PR Pros Should Use to Drive Engagement

1. Native Video

Facebook has said that they prefer updates that lead to discussion. One way to capitalize on this is to create and upload video directly to Facebook (no YouTube or Vimeo links). Consider scripting these and producing a regular daily or weekly feature that offers a behind the scenes look into an aspect of your service/product/industry. And while you may initially see a dip in views, video content that receives organic likes, comments, and shares will receive a bump in the News Feed since it will be deemed valuable to segments/communities of friends and family.

2. Live Video

A Live video strategy can increase your News Feed ranking in the same way native video can. With features like an announcement that you’re Live and the ability for viewers to send Likes and Hearts, as well as the ability to comment in real time, Live is engagement gold.

Consider scheduling Live events to allow viewers to get to know your brand. During the broadcast, give them a tour of HQ, encourage questions about your brand, product, or service. These events can also be an opportunity to hold AMA-style question and answer sessions with product experts.

3. Facebook Watch

Facebook is moving towards regularly broadcast shows, with the ability for viewers to subscribe to channels. With Facebook Watch, a brand can create a mix of regularly scheduled programming of high-value on-brand content. It will take resources and a lot of planning, but if you’re able to tell stories engagingly—especially untold stories—you’ll get eyeballs.

4. Facebook Events

Implement a regular schedule of Facebook Events for virtual product launches, Live video broadcasts, or in-person events. A benefit of Events is the ability to see who has seen an invite, as well as the Event feed as a place to further interact with invitees who have RSVP’d. Additionally, when invitees accept an invitation, the Event will be amplified to their friends and family. Also, attendees of your Event can be retargeted for Facebook Ads for additional brand engagement at a later date.

5. Facebook Groups

Put more resources into building up your Facebook Group’s community. With Facebook reach being practically zero, you’ll need another way to broadcast your messages. Use this opportunity to bring your community together in your Facebook Group for discussions around topics and concerns that impact your product/service/brand/company/industry. Groups can also be a place to foster a forum-type environment where customers and fans can interact with each other around your brand, product, or service.

Takeaways

With the Facebook algorithm change, PR pros will need to adjust their platform strategy. Here’s a recap of ways to drive engagement now:

  • Create a cadence for native video updates to highlight your product, service, or broadcast company developments
  • Use Facebook Live for off the cuff engagement and content such as AMA-style sessions
  • Develop themed, regularly-scheduled broadcasts for Facebook Watch to keep people tuning in
  • Use Facebook Events to build a list of engaged fans and retarget invitees via Facebook Ads 
  • Build a community around a brand Facebook Group to get to know your audience and let them get to know each other

Finding the Right Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

It’s clear that finding the right influencers is not simply about finding people with the highest number of followers on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. So, what do you look for? Research by influencer marketing platform Traackr found that 3 percent of people generate 90 percent of the impact online.

The key is understanding your customers’ influence circles and whom they’ve defined as niche experts within their trusted communities. “It’s important to establish some context: identify the topic in which you wish to gain influence,” says Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN Software. “Next, define your objective. Putting the two together, one example might be: ‘To encourage marketing experts to share our definitive guide to A/B testing to their social networks.’

Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media defines an influencer

Within this framework, influencers are people that marketers follow and respect, because of their expertise in marketing. These people (i.e., the followers) will also take action based on the influencers’ recommendations. They’ll model their behavior. If influencers share their successes with A/B testing, their followers will try the same tactic for themselves.” Similarly, you’re looking for an influencer who will be able to incorporate your brand into their usual style of storytelling—not someone who’s willing to cut-and-paste your brand message (and sometimes your instructions) into a social media post for anyone who sends them a check.

“Online, influencers are typically characterized by large followings and high authentic engagement, but one dimension that is often overlooked is the ‘scope’ of somebody’s influence,” says Li. “This is a huge oversimplification, but there are 1) global influencers (mega-celebrities like the Bieber), 2) niche influencers (the best in the world in a specific field/topic), and 3) local influencers (the person in your friend group who can convince anybody that “those” Korean tacos are worth waiting in line for). Generally speaking, global influencers reach far more people than local influencers, but local influencers can be much more effective in spurring action than global ones.”

When approaching an influencer about working with you, it can help to share a summary sheet about your company including any impressive content or media highlights, your reach and engagement across social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), number of blog subscribers, newsletter open and click-through rates, and other metrics that demonstrate your content reach and engagement. Showing how you can promote them to your audience is important to show the relationship is a two-way street with benefits to both parties. If you fumble your initial pitch, you may not have the opportunity to try again. “With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.”

“With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.”

5 Steps to Connect with the Right Influencers

  1. Use social listening to follow keywords, trending hashtags, and topics related to your market, and get to know potential influencers that talk about these topics
  2. Look for communities on social channels—such as Twitter chats, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups—that center around topics that relate to your brand and identify their most active members.
  3. Research media sites that talk about your market/industry and look for bloggers, analysts, and journalists who cover your market extensively.
  4. Search across blogs, media sites, and even your competitors’ websites to find analysts, bloggers, and journalists to reach out to.
  5. Prioritize your list of influencers by their level of engagement on their social channels and with their audience. Listen to hear if these influencers talk about other brands in your market (not only what they say, but how they say it) to see if you have an opportunity to reach out.

Targeting Your Outreach

PR pros are known for often taking the “firehose” approach when pitching stories to journalists and other influencers. Using a media contact database lets you harvest as many names as possible with even the remotest connection to your topic and email or message them all. However, influencer marketing, as we’ve covered, relies on building a mutually beneficial relationship based on understanding. Unlike a traditional media contact database—rooted in increasingly outmoded criteria, such as beat and publication—Meltwater’s influencer tool enables users to search by keywords and surface results based on recent and relevant content. (This might sound like the obvious approach, but today it’s the only media contact database with this modern search functionality.) You can now zero-in on influencers who are interested in the same topics you are.

This is an excerpt from our ebook, The Communication Pro’s Guide to Influencer Marketing, get more insights to establishing relationships that help tell your brand story by downloading the free ebook today!

influencers ebook

 

Find and Leverage Micro-Influencers for a PR Boost

Influencer marketing isn’t new – but it is blowing up. Searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” on Google have increased 325% in the past year. It ranks as the fastest growing online customer acquisition method.

What some brands are finding is that working with “famous” influencers, such as celebrities and the top industry minds, can be costly. And, the content they generate may not come across as authentic as they’d like.

An alternative that seems to be picking up steam is working with micro-influencers. What are micro-influencers, you ask?

“Micro-influencers are not traditional celebrities, but rather individuals who work in their category or are truly knowledgeable, passionate and authentic and are seen as a trusted source when it comes to recommendations for what to buy,” says a study sponsored by Experticity. They tend to have fewer followers, say between 2,000 and 100,000.

The study goes on to say that 82 percent of consumers who were surveyed for the study reported they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.

That’s a number that has to get your attention.

With their niche social following, micro-influencers can be an ideal way for brands to reach a targeted segment of their audiences. Because they’re passionate about their area of expertise, the content they generate can be more authentic and resonate to a greater degree with followers. If engagement is the goal, this can be an ideal way to get there.

How to Find Micro-Influencers

Brands who want to try using micro-influencers need to consider their objectives and which social media platforms they want to use based on where their audience hangs out. Then, of course, they need to select micro-influencers.

There Are Several Ways to Do This:

1)    Research it on your own: While this can be time-consuming, it can be done. Once you’ve chosen a social media platform, search for profiles using a keyword and then use the filters provided to narrow down the results. You can also look through your follower list for those who may be a fit.

2)    Hire an agency: There are many agencies who now specialize in helping brands find influencers at all levels. It can be costly, but it may end up saving you from going down a path with an influencer who may not be a good fit.

They can also help you vet influencers, which is more important than ever, keeping in mind that anyone can say anything at any time.

3)    Use a platform like Meltwater: An end-to-end management platform, Meltwater not only helps you find influencers, it also helps manage and measure your campaigns.

Why Micro-Influencers Can Be a PR Boost

We know that journalists use social media to find news sources, so if you’re leveraging micro-influencers, you may increase your odds of getting into stories.

“By following thought leaders and online influencers, journalists have a direct line to the discussions and topics that are building in their industry,” says David Jones of the Williams Mills Agency.

If your micro-influencers are creating content on your behalf, all the better. By publishing content and posting it on social media, your audiences—including journalists—may see the content and begin to follow you as a thought leader.

Your micro-influencers can also be a valuable source of fresh story ideas PR pros can use to fuel their efforts when working with reporters.

Who’s Winning with Micro-Influencers?

La Croix may be one of the larger brands successfully using micro-influencers to help achieve its marketing goals. The brand credits its campaign with micro-influencers with under 10,000 followers for helping to grow its Instagram following from 5,000 to 77,000 followers.

Tom’s of Maine, maker of personal care products with natural ingredients, also used a micro-influencer strategy on social media that paid off. For every 1,000 micro-influencers it used, the brand received more than 6,000 social media interactions.

“This example clearly shows how you don’t always have to go big with influencer marketing. A strong network of micro- and mid-level influencers, relevant to your niche, should have the desired effect on engaging your target audience,” said Shane Barker, a digital marketing consultant.