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How to Think Like a Journalist From a PR Perspective

How to Think Like a Journalist From a PR Perspective

JOURNALISTS AND PRs

The relationship between PRs and journalists is symbiotic, but journalists don’t need PRs to do their jobs. In fact, PRs can sometimes come across as desperate, needy and irritating. So how can you avoid that, and think more like journalists to generate the best outcome for your clients?

Below, we’ve covered four key things to remember to help you approach journalists effectively, build relationships and get the best coverage for your brands.

PRs and journalists have a long-standing history and symbiotic relationship when it comes to helping one another in their chosen roles. Journalists have article targets to meet, and PRs need coverage, so both parties can work together by sending relevant pitches and content that fulfils their given briefs and can be published.

What’s important to recognise, though, is that journalists do not NEED PRs to do their job. The primary focus for most journalists is to create unbiased articles that will fit within their niche and publication for their target audience. So, if they don’t need our pitch, or our shared content is irrelevant to them, it goes straight into the bin.

This means that sometimes the relationship can be a little one-sided, and PRs can come across as desperate, needy and irritating… So the question is, how can PRs think more like journalists to generate the best outcome for their clients?

Firstly, we need to unpack what journalists actually want from PRs and start thinking like them. Here are four key things to remember to help you approach journalists effectively, build relationships and get the best coverage for your brands.

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Do NOT spray and pray 

Journalists consistently highlight how PRs spam them with irrelevant articles that are off-brand, lack relevancy and are not useful. The first thing to therefore remember is that journalists primarily cover a specific niche, industry, or topic and very rarely venture outside these unless they are general assignment writers. So, avoid sending your stock and investment journalists any pitches about the best chocolate for Valentine’s Day, as it’s just not going to cut through the noise, ruin your reputation, and irritate journalists. 

Instead, manually look for journalists who will be interested in your campaigns and hand-pick them for specific angles. It’s incredibly important to ensure that you aren’t just using a generic media list to send pitches to and are taking the time to find relevant contacts. This increases your chances of landing coverage and puts you in the good books for building relationships with journalists, as they will know you have spent time thinking about them and understanding why they might be interested.

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There’s no such thing as checking too much 

We also need to understand that journalists are known for the credibility and reliability of their articles and data, meaning we need to ensure our pitches have no mistakes and are well-written and structured.

Not only this, but journalists are on tight deadlines and need to generate a specific number of articles within a time frame, so if you have errors within your data set or it’s not clear what your methodology is, you are wasting not only their time but also your own as it’s a wasted contact. Journalists will not spend time chasing you, so ensure you triple-check all pitches before they go out.

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Make sure your pitches are newsworthy and relevant to today 

The news constantly changes, and we must acknowledge this when creating our pitches and content. Journalists want stories that people are interested in reading now, so something relevant to Easter will not get covered in June as it’s outdated, old news, and not interesting to the current reader. 

One of the easiest ways to make your content more newsworthy is to be proactive and reactive in how you approach it and consistently ask yourself, “How is this relevant to now?” 

Some ways to do this are to stay updated with the news, make a reactive and social calendar, understand industry-relevant news, stay on top of trends and research recent surveys around your content topics. These can then be woven into your email templates to give your campaigns relevant news hooks that show the journalists you are thinking about how your news fits into the wider picture. 

Short and sweet is always best 

Journalists are inundated with articles daily, with one source saying she gets 300 emails per. This means PRs need to cut through the noise and ensure they get straight to the point, do not waste time and provide something of high interest.

The easiest way to do this is to scrap the waffle in pitches, provide an engaging headline, and get straight to the newsworthiness of the pitch. Essentially we need to send across pitches that aren’t lengthy, boring, brand-focused and jarring to read. 

Key takeaways: 

The main thing we must remember when pitching to journalists is that they are trying to push out articles that engage audiences and generate conversation and responses. We should therefore have these at the forefront of our minds when pitching to them. 

  • Hand-pick journalists – take the time to think of what journalists are interested in and how your pitch fits into their area of expertise
  • Be accurate – triple-check your press releases, data, and pitches to ensure they don’t have any errors
  • Create newsworthy pitches – show journalists why your pitch is relevant to the current news
  • Get to the point – don’t waste their time and get to the point as quickly as possible in your pitch
Page author photo
Leah de Gruchy

Leah works in the outreach team and has been in the industry for nearly three years. Leah’s key interests lie within the creative strategy side of outreach and re-angling content to make campaigns consistently relevant to the news.

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