Public relations and journalism go hand-in-hand, like a match made in heaven – that is, if both sides understand where the other is coming from. Both are often juggling lots of tasks, working to tight deadlines and catering to various needs.
Since making the switch from journalism to public relations, I’ve been able to apply my experience and knowledge in a way to try to make sure that I don’t make the mistakes as a public relations professional that I used to complain about as a journalist.
Here are a few tips I try to keep in mind…
Find the news angle
It might sound obvious but journalists need to have something worthy to report; something new and, more importantly, interesting. Figures, such as financial numbers or percentages of the population, tend to be good for grabbing attention. Always think about what the news angle is and why it’s exciting or surprising. Furthermore, this information needs to be at the top of the press release. There is no point in hiding the best bits in the middle because the journalist will never reach that point if they’re not engaged from the beginning.
Know your audience
This tip can often help you find the most appealing news angle within a story. Think about the audience that is being targeted and the publication through which the story is being told. What content would relate to them? What stories have they covered in the past? What pieces have received a good reaction? The information that is sent has to be relevant and getting this right not only demonstrates an understanding of the target publication and market, it also increases the chance of coverage and the likelihood that the next press release sent will be considered.
Pay attention to the details
Public relations and journalism overlap considerably in terms of skills, which means that these will be expected and appreciated on both sides, so having a typo in the first paragraph of a press release is not ideal. In fact, unless the story is incredible, it could be the deciding factor as to whether it gets included or not. Journalists like it when public relations professionals make their lives easier and public relations professionals like it when journalists make them look good in front of clients. Therefore the small details can make a huge difference.
Look closely and critically
Words aren’t the only thing public relations professionals need to pay attention to. There is nothing worse for a journalist than getting a good story with a terrible picture. It’s important to get imagery that reflects the story and is aesthetically appealing. From cluttering to bad lighting, there are umpteen things that can ruin a photograph. Picture quality is also key so send high-resolution images that have been taken on a proper camera and ideally by a professional. Precious time can be wasted having to ask for different or higher quality images.
Get your timing right
When it comes to following up with media, keep in mind that they are, like public relations professionals, incredibly busy and under time pressure. Calling them to ‘make sure they got the email’ an hour after sending it will only cause aggravation. Give them a reasonable amount of time to have noticed it in their inbox and get straight to the point of the call. Moreover, try to choose a time when the receiver of the call is likely to be happy, for example after lunch. Often it is a good idea to call them and pitch in advance of sending the release.
Show your appreciation
It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, acknowledgement and appreciation means a lot. It takes no time to put in a quick call or send a short email saying thank you. Even if a journalist comes back to say a story is not of interest, it’s good to respond and take note of the feedback. As well as displaying gratitude, this small gesture helps to build relationships – these, after all are fundamental for the way in which public relations and journalism work together.
We hope to have shown that seeing things through a journalistic perspective can greatly enhance your PR relationships, processes and results. For more tips on becoming a better public relations professional, follow our blog! If you’d like to make an enquiry for our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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