Successful Media Outreach Needs Creativity, Not Relationships

By: Katherine Verducci, CEO and co-founder of 1903 PR

There is one question that we bump into with almost every new business pitch. “What relationships do you have with reporters in our industry?” Maybe it says something about my personality type, but I have to know someone pretty well to say I have a “relationship” with them. If I wouldn’t call you to help move a couch, I probably wouldn’t tell someone we have a relationship.

What people are really asking is, “How can you leverage personal favors for my benefit?”

Even if I did have a genuine relationship with a key reporter in your industry, I would not want you to hire 1903 PR based solely on that. The reason is because it implies we have only one card to play and we’re going to use it early. Then what? We want to develop strategic, ongoing plans that build month-over-month and that means we need more than a one-time favor.

We develop relationships with reporters because we bring innovative, fresh ideas with all the resources needed to tell the story. Reporters trust us to serve up what we promise. Our information is accurate/factual and our perspective is something unique that their audience will care about. Reporters understand that we are serving a client, but if we give them a story that speaks to larger industry issues, they don’t mind including our clients’ messaging in the finished product.

Also, the only reason we have professional relationships is because we bring creative ideas tailored to the reporters’ audience. If we don’t deliver that benefit, our relationship is going to end. Reporters take a great deal of pride in their work, so they are not going to jeopardize their credibility to do you a favor. They are not going to risk their reputation, or their paycheck, in order to do someone a solid.

I know we have lost out on new business because we aren’t willing to lie to potential clients by saying, “Yes! We have relationships with all of your key reporters.” But this is part of the transparency we pride ourselves on, and we want to set the bar higher for the PR industry.

If you have hired an agency based on “relationships” then what happens if that go-to reporter moves to a publication with a different focus?

Your agency just lost their value prop.

The world of PR has changed dramatically in recent years. The media landscape has been turned upside down by the pandemic. There have been layoffs, furloughs and entire publications have disappeared because of the challenge of how to monetize quality journalism. As a result reporters move around A LOT. They often write for multiple outlets or change beats frequently. Just keeping track of people can be tough. If you haven’t been keeping up on emerging influencers, or following news cycles, you aren’t a good PR professional.

A much better question for companies to ask PR agencies that come in to pitch their business is, “How are you going to break through with new reporters in the space?” If a PR agency can do this, no matter the economic climate or what vertical market you move into, you’ll always be well served.

The team at 1903 PR are experts on this. We study your customers, the reporters covering your industry and your corporate goals to create PR pitches that reporters are excited to explore. If you want to see examples of this, go check out our news page and if you are ready to talk about what we can do for your company, please visit the contact page. Operators are standing by! Just kidding – we sleep sometimes.

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