The Invisible Effort Behind Media Opportunities

When you hire a PR team, you’re not only tapping into established media relationships, but new ones that will be nurtured on your behalf. It’s not often clients get to see what goes into securing an interview or a sought-after feature story. Hint: It’s copious amounts of time, rejection, ideas and tenacity.

Getting a single quote in a long magazine article or a brief meet and greet with a key reporter might not seem like a big deal but they can lay the foundation for much greater opportunities down the road. Relationship building is the name of the game and while there are instances when timing is perfect and the pitch is spot on, instant results are usually the exception rather than the rule when it comes to media relations.

So, how does a story come to life? Here is a glimpse into some of what your PR team does behind the scenes to get coverage—and what you can do to help.

Break Into a New Market

With all media, it’s safe to say that patience is crucial—especially if you’re tapping into a new market.

The first pitch may not resonate with the editor or it’s simply not the right time for this story. A “no” may eventually turn into a “yes” with a different angle and a new perspective. If all else fails, your team will research new ways to break in. This may mean changing the pitch a few times (while keeping the core messaging intact) and connecting with different journalists and producers until something clicks. It’s important to learn the different nuances with each contact.

In fact, if the market is local, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not easy to crack. Some may argue that at times, it can be more challenging than securing national media due to shrinking newsrooms and the need for a hyper-local angle. While a national story looks at a larger trend, the local story focuses on how your news is affecting the community.

McClatchy is currently in the process of revamping their newsrooms to include a heavier digital focus and stories that drive readership, social conversation and shares—all things to consider when shaping the pitch.

The Little Things Add Up

It’s a rare moment when you reach out to a high-profile magazine and land a cover story on the first try. A feature story may be in your future, but don’t expect it during the first few weeks of your PR engagement. Each placement—big or small—is part of the strategy that will add up to the larger picture and purpose.

And even if you land the interview, your quote may get cut out of the story. It’s disappointing, but par for the course. The editor may have had to accommodate space issues, your information was used for background purposes or even breaking news had to push the segment.

The more gracious you are, the higher the chances the reporter or producer will respect your understanding and try to get you back in when the time is right.

Prove Your Chops on Camera

Producers trust their PR contacts to give them experts that are camera ready. A media coaching session goes a long way in making you look polished, even if you don’t have a lot of experience yet. Participating in panel formats is a great way to ease into media exposure. They are great opportunities to chime in with your perspective and a position on an issue without having to carry the whole conversation. The one-on-one interviews will come in due time.

New York City is a media hub and participating in a day-long media tour is a smart way to meet contacts. Face-to-face meetings are invaluable as you have a better chance to leave a lasting impression.

Planning will begin a few weeks prior to the chosen date and more lead time may be required for certain projects, such as a book launch. It’s a balancing act between filling the day with quality meetings and taking everyone’s schedules into consideration. Be committed and present the entire time. Canceling meetings (especially live interviews) will not be appreciated. The last thing you want to do is leave a bad taste in the media’s mouth.

Your PR team is on a daily mission to foster the connections that will lead to brand exposure. The first two months of engagement will set the stage for building a public relations strategy that will leverage your brand.