Before sharing insights on media pitching, it is essential to briefly understand how PR works.
So, what is PR? Public Relations helps us build a positive reputation/image of a company/ a brand/ an individual through earned media – traditional, digital, social media and engaging with influencers at the right moment on select platforms. A PR expert or a brand custodian will communicate with the target audience and stakeholders directly or indirectly through the use of relevant mediums of communication aiming to build or retain a positive image and reputation along with a strong relationship with the target audience.
Public relations is very essential to one’s business. It is important to note that the public image of a business makes up 63%[i] of its value for most companies today.
It is important to understand that PR is an ongoing process and it can not work overnight. You can create high impact moments of visibility from time to time to create brand recognition and enhance brand recall but it takes months and years to build a solid foundation and constant vigilance to create a strong brand reputation that will stand the test of time.
Media pitching in PR is a process which involves steps which can be defined using the acronym RACE.
RACE stands for Research, Action and planning, Communication and Evaluation. These four steps act like four tyres of a car. If one is punctured then the results won’t be effective. Let’s dig deep into each one of them:
Research plays a vital role in the PR process. An accurate, precise and substantial amount of research would help in devising a successful and effective PR strategy. Therefore, it is important to develop a proper understanding of the brand and its competitors. This research would also help one garner an understanding of our competitors’ brand image with the media and other stakeholders. As a part of the research, it is also essential to do a SWOT ( Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats ) analysis of the client. This would help one plan strategies in a way so that the strengths defeat the threats and we can conquer the weaknesses with opportunities.
After the research, the next step is to interpret the data accurately. The data consists of information about the company and its competitors. It is important to use this data to target the right media at the right time with the right communication.
Action is the next important step. After research, the data and information need to be put to use in the correct manner and use it to target the right media at the right time. This is where our strategy comes into the picture. We need to take action and use the data accumulated to arrive at a strategy and set objectives that will meet the business goal of the client in a set time period. The key now is to leverage these insights to map the right journalist in relevant columns/sections of the target media at the right time with a relevant story that will make sense to them and their readers /viewers/listeners.
Communication is the essence of PR. A smart PR professional will utilize several forms of communication when pitching to the stakeholders involved in the process. Two key ones that one deals with is – Media and Client. One needs to make sure that not only is the communication to both individual parties be seamless but the communication bridge between them also has the right tone. Right from developing key messages for a client, to sending pitch mails to the media, meeting and calling them, client coordination – everything is communication. Obviously, your pitch will differ and depend on the sector your client belongs to and the individual journalist and media you are dealing with. While there are a lot of uncontrollable elements when it comes to communication, what is in our control is what we do and how we communicate. As the representative of a brand, the PR pro needs to imbibe and lead the tonality of communication for the client and ensure it is followed through in every mode of communication and adhered to by the leadership team as well.
Evaluation is the final step to the PR process. It is important to be able to assess our performance or the effectiveness of our strategy/PR plan. This can be an internal evaluation or basis the client’s requirements. There are several methods of evaluation but no hard and fast one. You can develop one that you feel is best suited to the client’s requirements. But the thumb rule is to gauge the impact you have been able to create, which will be a good indication of whether your PR strategy and pitch is correct and relevant for your client. All of this helps understand the share of voice a client has amongst their competitors which will, in turn, help one plan for the future.
Khushboo Alag , Nucleus PR
[i] Reference: Corporate Reputation – 12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation by author Leslie Gaines- Ross