4 Earned Media Strategies to Get You Noticed by Journalists

By Nikki Willoughby

Getting noticed by journalists requires an action-oriented, complex set of strategies. Learn some top tips on effectively showing up for your best stories.

Do you know the 3Ps or the 7Cs for public relations? How about the golden rule for publicity or the 5 key terms? If you answered, “No,” don’t worry, no one else knows them either. They are jargon well-intentioned to help organize and optimize the work of public relations and earned media professionals. However, good PR doesn’t rely on jargon to get the job done. Let’s find out what it does rely on.

Research on media details and targets

PR pros know that you can’t pitch a story without knowing every angle of it. This helps us find the best perspective to write and pitch. 

As a client, consider whether you can speak with confidence in an interview or on background – can you tell the story based on your own knowledge? If the topic is highly technical and requires special education credentials, do you have an expert to break it down into 3-5 bullet points that your PR pro and you can digest and speak about with total confidence. Earned media relies on journalists having to do the least amount of research, so they can focus on analyzing and writing. That puts the research on your PR pro, and you are the best source of that knowledge.

Research also applies to the pitching process, where it is critical that your PR representative knows the beat, recent topics, and the preferred contact method of journalists. Reaching out by phone to a reporter who requests email pitches about the topics they write about is not going to be successful.

Park & Battery keeps track of journalists and their particulars using media software, which helps us create lists of reporters working in the fields where we are seeking earned media. We work on building relationships with those who write about stories like the ones we’re pitching, which goes a long way toward building trust with folks who will come to know that we will only pitch stories that are tailored to them.

Key Takeaway: Do your homework—as you are reading about your industry, make note of great articles and their authors. Pass those along to your PR professional so they can make note of the particulars and add them to pitch notes. 

Timing is everything in earned media

Studies show that the best day to make a new pitch is on Thursdays, when the average open rate jumps to more than 26 percent! But why Thursdays? Odds are that journalists have already chosen and written their stories for the week and are taking a chance to catch up on unopened emails in the hope of finding next week’s stories.

This knowledge helps clients learn the best days to start working on pitches, and how long they may take to actually start being pitched. At Park & Battery, we can get pitches fleshed out, written, and approved pretty quickly. The only thing we can’t do is make Thursday come any sooner (although we wish had this superpower!). 

Key Takeaway: You are the most important partner in the pitching process, and your PR professional wants to get your earned media opportunity buttoned up just as quickly as you do. Understand that patience is a PR virtue sometimes, but with your help we will get your story out into the world. 

You can’t beat great writing

I work often with members of the media to get a story told, and my job is to go in with the facts straight and to suggest angles for the piece I’m pitching. However, the commentary belongs to the journalist to write, and it’s important not to overstep this process. When the media are into a story, the first thing on my mind is to show, not tell, why it’s newsworthy, to capture their attention right away.

This, of course, means that clients need to explain details to me so I have a thorough understanding of the pitch. This helps earned media professionals go deep while keeping the pitch succinct and accessible for a journalist.

Journalists see so many releases, get so many pitches, hear so many facts, that showing them why a story works with their audience and their type of writing can be the key to hitting their sweet spot differently. This means my releases and pitches have to be exceptionally well written, paint a picture of the story I’m trying to tell, and offer a story within their beat that is both compelling and unique. I can only do this if clients pull me in with details I won’t otherwise know or understand.

One of the strengths of Park & Battery is our team of content writers, who can always improve writing based on their experience and familiarity with the client. We rely on one another for backup, and it works well.

Key Takeaway: We write the best we can, then have someone unfamiliar with the topic read it for clarity and language. Does it make sense to an intelligent but uninformed co-worker? And we edit mercilessly, using action verbs to make sure the piece is brimming with new and interesting content.

Building on a strong foundation for earned media and public relations

As you can see, there’s more to public relations and earned media than meets the eye. It takes a certain set of knowledge and skills to do it well, and often those skills include being an equal partner with your PR representative. There is always more to learn, and we can teach you practical knowledge to making pitching the media easier and more successful. But we need you to teach us the details about the pitch. 

Park & Battery succeeds in earning media coverage because we know how and when to make pitches and what journalists are looking for in releases and initial contact. We’ve had significant success based on our own key differentiators – outstanding work for our clients, dedication to our culture, and careful understanding of what it takes to do extraordinary public relations. 

With the tips above, you can leverage your own public relations efforts to assist us in achieving the kind of earned media you are seeking and greatly improve your chances of earning media coverage.

Nikki Willoughby Head of Communications

As P&B’s Head of Communications, Nikki is passionate about making connections, from culture to content to client to the collective experience. She is an accomplished writer, strategist, and collaborator, with both for-profit and nonprofit expertise to draw from. Nikki’s favorite question is, “So what?” She looks for meaning and impact in the work she does for clients and shines when she is at her creative and questioning best.

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