Five members of the 10Fold team recently sharpened their media relations skills at a “PR Bootcamp” organized by the San Francisco Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The immersive half-day workshop brought together dozens of young communications professionals who were eager to learn.
Attendees were separated into groups during the breakout sessions on various PR topics led by seasoned industry experts. During lunch, keynote speaker Emily Graham, MWWPR’s Group VP of Corporate Communications, discussed how young professionals can boost their visibility with senior staff. The workshop concluded with an insightful Q&A session with journalists from a variety of sectors.
While learning how to master our media relations skills, we came away with some valuable lessons to share with other up-and-coming communications professionals.
Here are some of the key highlights:
Personalize, personalize, personalize
The overarching trend during the workshop was to make yourself stand out to your media targets by personalizing everything. PR professionals should focus on personalizing our engagement with the media, our pitches and our media lists. To do this effectively, it’s important to monitor news and Twitter feeds daily to ensure we are aware of the latest happenings in the industry. Also, personalizing media lists to focus on journalists who would be a good fit is much more effective than targeting hundreds of contacts who may or may not be relevant.
Reporters are human
Yes, it’s obvious that journalists are human (full disclosure, I’m a former reporter, and I can confirm that I’m human!). However, it can be a subtle detail that’s easy to overlook in the hectic day-to-day PR life. Get to know your media targets by following them on Twitter to figure out their quirks and tone. If time permits, ask a reporter you constantly engage with if they want to grab coffee or lunch sometime so you can get to know them. Not every interaction with a journalist should come with a pitch, but getting to know them can help you secure more coverage in the long run.
Make sure your pitch gets noticed
The goal of the pitch it to get your media target to the “tell me more” stage. While some reporters prefer to be contacted via short and sweet emails, others prefer phone calls or social media messages. During the media panel, all four journalists said email pitches should have catchy subject lines to get them to open the pitch. Long sentences and buzzwords are problematic and can turn off busy reporters. The panel unanimously agreed that when it comes to pitches, less is more. Shorter pitches are always better because you don’t want to lose a reporter’s attention.
Don’t forget to PR yourself
Emily Graham’s keynote addressed the important of “merchandizing” ourselves. She stressed that several young professionals, especially women, are hesitant to promote their great achievements. This is definitely something that needs to change because it’s okay to toot your own horn sometimes. Promoting your exceptional qualities and accomplishments shows other people, including your managers and your clients, what makes you an excellent PR professional.
As the media landscape continues to rapidly change, it’s up to communications professionals to keep up with the times. Today we’re engaging with reporters on Twitter, but who knows what their social network of choice will be years from now. Attending the PR bootcamp is just one of the many ways the 10Fold team stays up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices – and thanks to the PRSA for organizing another highly valuable event.
Webbo Chen, Kyra Tillmans, Whitney Urmann and Nathan Zaragosa contributed to this post.
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