Over the past decade, the PR to journalist conversation has moved on from being solely characterised by debates over mass pitching, ineffective emailing, and sales like phone calls. This of course, remains a topic of contention for some, but for many, the point of matter is personalisation.
We live in a world where personalisation is at our core. Email campaigns from our favourite brands arrive in our inbox, addressing us by first name and may even gift us on our birthday’s, while Google ads are served to us based on what we’ve searched for and what sites we’ve visited.
Whether its Netflix and Spotify providing you with ‘recommended for you’ segments, or an ecommerce brand personalising its packaging with your name on it – if it’s not personalised it is unlikely, in this day and age, that we will even bother to engage in it.
Tailored content and individualised relationships therefore have naturally become the go to PR professionals and brands in order to deepen trust and diversify one’s pitch and stand out in an overloaded inbox.
Personalisation and journalist engagement
Research suggests that 74% of marketers believe targeted personalisation increases customer engagement. Although a simple ‘first name’ formula can be the quickest option when targeting people on mass, in the world of PR, you’re far more likely to build relationships, earn trust and get your content where it truly matters, if you take the time to take personalisation a step further.
The PR industry regularly conducts surveys on what reporters genuinely want and how the media landscape is continuing to change and evolve. In a recent report by The Next Web, 61.8 percent of journalists said they saw PR’s main point of help was with insider information. Second to this at 55.9 percent, was connections to sources and officials.
It would suggest that developing relationships as well as the foreword on an exciting new industry announcement, product or change within your chosen industry will be greatly received, beating competitors to the punch.
Content is no longer simply the written word. We know that video content is more digestible and the likes of LADbible, Buzzfeed and Business Insider are all creating fast paced content that captivates viewers quickly.
And with 82% of all consumer internet traffic set to come from online videos by 2022, journalists are now looking for more than just a simple understanding of the major topics they cover, but the format it can be viewed in, too. Therefore, embracing their branding and creating bespoke and exclusive content will work better when trying to engage the media – and its readers.
Building relationships and creativity
Investing time to get to know a journalist and publication is key when trying to establish relationships. When considering the journalist, publication and what type of hook they are looking for, pitching tailored content is key.
Brands should consider mimicking the style of the publication they are pitching to – whether that is through adapting the tone of voice or writing in a style that matches theirs. Addressing the right wordcount and ensuring opinion is met with a fair argument, is as crucial as not directly selling a product or service – if that’s what you are after, then it’s likely you’ll be asked to pay for an advertisement slot.
Consider reaching out to journalists and reading their work, explaining what it is you like and go on to explain why your pitch is relevant to them. Much like Amazon and other ecommerce businesses need to personalise their content and sales methods in order to gain a buyer, PR’s are the salesmen (and women) of stories and the buyer is the journalist.
When following up a pitch, brands and PR’s should get creative. Don’t simply follow up with a standardised email, send something personalised, eye catching and memorable.
As Covid-19 has put a hold on human-to-human contact for the foreseeable, try a different approach by organising virtual meet and greets or putting together brand look books. Times are changing, so change with them, too.
Individuality can go a long way and PR professionals that don’t take the time to properly research their recipient will get left in the mire. It’s a familiar beat, but analysing this one step further, The Next Web’s research saw almost an even tie between journalists simply ‘getting the facts’ (58.8 per cent) and ‘caring about the story’ (41.2 per cent) in PR pitches.
Mass pitching could still be a valid method in this day and age, but you only have to look at any journalist who is worth their salt, and their previous stories, to understand that a personal story is crucial.
The rise of technology and social media
With traditional journalism struggling to keep up with the new digital age of social media, journalists are often looking for exclusivity; something that isn’t already out there and that offers a unique angle.
Sure, big PR stunts such as Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls caught the attention of thousands, as did the notorious ‘Share a Coke’ campaign from Coca Cola, but often smaller, reactive PR stunts are just as beneficial.
In 2019, an ASOS customer shared a photo of herself in one of their dresses having received negative comments on a dating app. In a bid to boost confidence and really connect with their consumers, ASOS took it upon themselves to contact the customer directly and update the product page on their website with the exact same image.
This resulted in even more positive press coverage for the brand as they were able to make an entire campaign out of a simple, personalised message – proving that personalistion is more often than not, key.
While PR pitching can be a long and painstaking process to get right, it’s worth remembering that it is a marathon, and not a sprint. Trust and conciseness can take a long time to develop with journalists who are as time poor as ever. However, with a little bit of research and thinking outside of the box, PR professionals can set themselves onto a rewarding and coverage-laden path.
Contact the expert team at Champions (UK) plc on [email protected] to review your brand’s PR strategy, consumer segmentation, communications and social media approaches.