We live in an era where the term “fake news” worries many, especially journalists. Journalists work hard every day to make sure stories are accurate, credible and timely, and having to fend off accusations of truthfulness can be dispiriting.
According to Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media Report, 56 percent of journalists said that fake news accusations are causing audiences to become more skeptical about the content that they produce.
Now more than ever, it is important for public relations professionals to make sure we provide journalists with the most relevant, timely and credible stories that resonate with them and their audiences.
Below are some key tips that can help PR professionals provide better stories to journalists.
Have a clear news hook
According to Cision’s report, 45 percent of respondents said a press release is more efficient with a clearly stated news hook. Dismiss the industry jargon, be more conversational in your emails and get to the point when pitching any news to journalists.
Have data and expert sources readily available
As PR professionals, we all know how important credible sources are to our work, and journalists are no different; they, too, need stories that include an expert’s take on a subject, and/or data to back up their points. Thus, when we pitch a story, we need to identify the sources we have available. In the Cision report, 27 percent noted that PR professionals should have data and experts sources ready to go when reporters need them.
Having these experts and credible data readily available to journalists shows them you are a reliable source, and they may gravitate toward you for future insights.
Improve media relationships
Before sharing a client story and/or information with a journalist, the first thing a PR professional needs to do is research the journalist’s beat and the publication for which they write. Make sure you understand the topics a journalist writes about before sending a pitch. It’s easy: All you have to do is check out their recent articles and personal websites. Bonus: Doing your research on a journalist also will help you personalize your pitches.
Once you have an understanding of who they are, start a conversation with them on social media, share their articles, and even send them a note about one of their recent stories. This initial conversation will lay a foundation for when it is time to pitch a client story.
Keep in mind that a journalist is a person, too, so stay connected even if you have no news to pitch. Meet them for coffee when you’re both at the same trade-show, and add them on your social media. Building and maintaining relationships with journalists helps create mutual respect between both parties.
In a time where the term “fake news” has pushed the media industry to be more accountable and provide credible sources to support their stories, PR professionals can help journalists out by providing concise news hooks and readily available sources, thus building strong relationships that in turn help out the PR person.