Six Pieces of Media Relations Advice for the Newbies

Heart racing, palms sweating… no, you’re not having a heart attack. You’re pitching your first story as an intern or entry-level pro. Whew! it can be nerve wracking, for sure. Through a good process, you can feel prepared and confident in your delivery.

  1. Know “why.” What’s the point of the media relations effort? What’s the big picture? How does this release, this pitch fit into what the client/company wants to accomplish? It’s ok to ask. You’re not just “smiling and dialing,” asking why can help you craft a better pitch, but also helps you understand the business of public relations and the media relations function.
  2. Know the story. Understand not only the primary story, but all the potential angles. You may not be able to pitch the primary story to every editor (in fact, you probably can’t).
  3. Create, refine and refine again your media list. An awesomely targeted and strategically refined media list is your golden ticket. This part is pretty freaking tedious, but it’s so important. Don’t let the tedium deter you. Tools like Cision and Vocus can help a lot if your organization has a subscription. If they don’t, there are a bunch of free or almost free tools… including your eyes and brain. If you understand the “why,” (see #1), you can be reading, watching and listening to the right sources and you’ll get to know who will be interested in your pitch. This takes time, so the computer-aided-search-tools are a nice boost, but don’t lean on them too hard. Know your organization’s industry.
  4. Write the pitch. If you’re emailing it, make sure the grammar is pristine, the message clear and that it’s SHORT. If you’re calling, make sure the grammar is pristine, the message clear and that it’s SHORT.
  5. Practice the pitch. Have colleagues read and listen to your pitch and give you feedback.
  6. Make the call! (or send the email). But really, you’re going to have to make the call at some point, even if your first pitch is via email.

I asked my friends via Twitter what advice they would give to newbies and, boy! did they have advice. Check it out. And follow these super smarties – some are vets and some are newbies themselves.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Bookgirl96/statuses/106815124261703680″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/JenJAshley/statuses/106816028138422272″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/mculpPR/statuses/106815993988386816″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/mculpPR/statuses/106815639099949056″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/JulieMa/statuses/106812944096047105″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/jpitts/statuses/106817252728389632″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/RACHELkoppes/statuses/106816629446410241″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/jenna_levy/statuses/106819096561192960″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/behindthespin/statuses/106831502993657856″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/KellysDavies/statuses/106832108646965249″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/ztzinthecity/statuses/106820662022250496″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/jamescrawford/statuses/106832389141037056″]

See James’ blog, too.


[blackbirdpie url=”!/kevinkennedy320/statuses/106833121214865408″]

For even more tips & advice, check out my Delicious tag on media relations. And I’d love to hear what you think? What would you add?

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  • James Crawford

    Hi Kelly, Good blog post. I was wondering if you could include a link to my blog by the Twitter comment? If you could I’ll happily reblog your post on my blog and include an inbound link on that. It’s good for the SEO. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Hi James, Sorry I missed your comment. Hectic week. Sure I can do that. Added.

  • James Crawford

    Thanks Kelli. I reblogged your post and included links. Thanks.

  • James Crawford

    Also, I corrected the spelling of your name… 😉

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  • Yana

    I’m as frightened as the next person to have to make that phone call or in person pitch, I enjoyed your post and appreciated the easiness to the post.

    The twitter comments were also a great touch. I’m more likely to retain information that are only 140 characters.

  • Rkaapu

    You have clearly and simply stated the “pitching” process. Over this past summer I was responsible for a lot of media relations and this really sums up and simplifies the process. One of the greatest lessons I learned was #3- refining your media list. At first, I ran into a lot of problems with reporters who didn’t want to hear anything I had to say and it was a process of researching and really finding out what interests them. Great post!

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  • Taylor Flumerfelt

    Thank you for writing this post! I’ll be starting my first internship next semester and the thought of pitching stories to media outlets has always scared me. One of my worst fears regarding pitching stories is ruining connections that could be useful in the future. I think these tips will be really helpful as I’m interning and even as I enter the workforce.

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