Lessons from a journalist: Key takeaways

How do we make sure our pitches stand out of the crowd in journalists’ busy inboxes? Media relations manager Ellie Byrne attended an insightful online course led by seasoned journalist Suzanne Bearne to ensure we put our best foot forward.

In the fast-paced world of media relations, staying ahead of the curve is not just an advantage—it's a necessity. Understanding how journalists work, telling captivating stories, and ensuring we leverage the latest digital tools aren't just tricks; they're integral to how we excel in this service. The webinar confirmed that, in media relations, it's not just about getting in the news but building lasting relationships. 

While we won't unveil the specific tips and tricks discussed—encouraging fellow PR professionals to delve into the details firsthand—here are the key takeaways and why they are crucial in navigating the complex world of media relations.

Understanding the journalist's world

The course commenced by immersing participants in the nuanced world of journalism, and an explanation of the challenges journalists face daily. From short deadlines and trying to fulfil editor demands to many exiting the industry and newsrooms being short-staffed, there are many considerations that PRs need to understand. This awareness is fundamental for any PR professional seeking to establish meaningful and effective relationships with the media. The course encourages us to look at it from a journalistic perspective to ensure we help each other in the best and most effective way possible.

Crafting compelling narratives

Consider the art of storytelling. Beyond mere information, journalists are drawn to compelling narratives, and understanding the human-interest element and delving into the backstory of businesses and spokespersons proves pivotal in capturing a journalist's attention. It's not just about the 'what' but the 'who' and 'why' behind the story. It’s important to remember this when thinking about possible pitching angles. 

Positioning as the voice of  authority

In a world inundated with information, journalists seek authoritative voices. Therefore, the significance of positioning brands as experts in their respective fields cannot be overstated. Building a solid social media presence, engaging with journalists on relevant platforms, and strategically pitching as go-to sources for specific stories emerged as powerful strategies for gaining that all-important media coverage.

The nuances of pitching

Navigating the pitching process is a crucial aspect of successful media relations. Suzanne delved into the importance of being selective in approaching journalists, understanding their interests, and tailoring pitches accordingly. The course underscored the significance of effective communication channels, emphasising the preference for email pitches over phone calls. 

Leveraging digital tools

In a digital age, harnessing the power of online platforms is imperative. We explored the potential of ResponseSource, X and LinkedIn, for example, as valuable tools for connecting with journalists. Understanding the specificity of journalists' requests on these platforms and aligning responses accordingly became a focal point of the training.

Dos and don'ts: Building authentic relationships

We also delved into the dos and don'ts of interacting with journalists. Acting swiftly and efficiently, engaging authentically on social media, and avoiding common pitfalls like overpromising or badgering journalists, all emerged as integral components of building and maintaining positive relationships.

Why it matters

The overarching theme of the course was the transformation of media relations from a transactional to a relational approach. It was reinforced that it's not just about securing coverage but about fostering long-term relationships with journalists. By understanding their challenges, appreciating their preferences, and providing valuable, well-crafted narratives, PR professionals can become trusted collaborators rather than mere pitch-makers.

If you’d like to delve deeper, take a look at Suzanne’s upcoming training courses

Interested in learning more about Scriba’s media relations capabilities and increasing your voice in the press, get in touch to discuss pitching possibilities. Alternatively, take a look at our top tips for building relationships with journalists.

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