As a journalist, I regularly received press releases and media pitches from organizations eager for good press. Unfortunately, they lacked news value without exception.
I wished they had news value; I could have used them. I needed stories. But they were unusable. I deleted them, sometimes en masse without even opening them. I began to wonder what the impact would be if the PR professionals sending the media pitches actually sent something I could use. Would the good press they received have an impact on their organization’s bottom line?
I was able to test my theory when I took a media relations position at a small private college. I approached press releases, for lack of a better term, the same way I had approached news stories as a reporter. My media pitches quickly drew the interest of news reporters looking for stories. The college became a major source for the media on everything from financial aid to the economy, the medical profession and undergraduate research, even sports. Student applications, which had diminished largely due to the rising cost of tuition, skyrocketed 60% over an 18 month period.
Then one day a well known business publication (The Business Review) called. The reporter on the other end of the line needed a profile for a regular feature in the publication. I paused momentarily and the reporter, trying to convince me to go along with this idea, said: “People call us begging us to do this for them all the time.” I was aware of that. I had been a reporter in a different market, but he didn’t know that. And, no, I didn’t tell him.
I was pretty sure my approach to media relations would be effective. I didn’t know it would be that effective.
The media was pitching story ideas — to me!
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