When a new client comes on board and you are tasked with providing media coverage for the company, it’s natural to want to wow them with some terrific coverage in the first few days…just to show them you are very capable at your job. But, in fact, it would be a disservice to the client, and to yourself, to race to get that first article too soon. Without taking the proper initial steps, you are likely to get no responses from the reporters you send your pitch to, no matter how many reporters you contact.

Keep in mind, for example, lifestyle and fashion verticals receive more than 300 pitches a day, according to a recent survey. So why should they open your email?

Preparation is paramount before approaching the media. Here are a few important steps to follow.

  • First, get to know your client, their industry, their products or services, their goals and mission, their philosophy, their works above and beyond their products/service. Know them in depth so that you are able to talk about them in depth.
  • Next, create a media list. Identify publications and specific reporters who report on topics directly related to the work of your new client.
  • Then, pinpoint three or four specific reporters at publications you are most interested in for your client coverage and begin at once building a relationship with them. That means:
  1. Read their articles. Make sure theirs is a beat that would cover your client, its products and/or its works
  2. Follow these reporters on social media
  3. Comment on current articles the reporter has written. Make a point to do this on a regular basis so that the reporter begins to recognize your name. But really be constructive when you comment. Journalists can see through PR pros who are just trying to “cozy up” to them to get coverage.
  4. Periodically, share the reporter’s articles via your client’s social media channels. Not all blog posts or all tweets, for example, have to come directly from your client. Sharing an interesting article about your client’s industry provides the readers with valuable, pertinent information. It also is another “nod” to the reporter as you show your respect for his/her work.

Getting to know a reporter – or really, getting the reporter to know you – takes time and careful cultivation. Only after he/she begins to recognize you can you expect the best pitching results.

In a recent survey, 66% of participating reporters said they would be at least somewhat more likely to open an email if the sender referenced his/her past relationship in the subject line. If you’re able to mention that connection, you will have a better chance of catching their attention.

But once you have this recognition with the reporter, don’t blow it.

  • Be sure you send the reporter only ideas with real news value to the reporter and his/her audience, not just something the client says he/she wants to see in print.
  • Start with a solid subject line. Use the connection with him/her, when appropriate. Be sure the subject line lets the reporter know exactly what the pitch is about. No clever line meant to keep the reporter guessing. That will most assuredly not get the email opened.
  • Be concise in your pitching. Write it, edit it and edit it again. Brevity is key.