Jenna’s Media Relations Commandments

1. Thou shalt research EVERY reporter on your media list. And research is *not* defined as hopping onto Cision … that’s just the beginning. Research their name, read the articles they’ve written in the past and be DAMNED sure they are the best contact for your pitch.

2. Thou shalt keep news releases to no more than one page. If it needs to be longer, create supplemental documents. I don’t want to read a novel to find the story idea and neither do our reporter friends.

3. Thou shalt never call a reporter unprepared. Before picking up the phone, outline what you’re going to say and before bolting into your pitch, be kind and ask the person on the other end of the line if now is a good time to talk.

4. Thou shalt never be pushy or grumpy or abrasive even if the person you’re pitching is pushy or grumpy or abrasive. It’s our job to make a reporter’s life easier and to push our client’s messages out to their key audiences. If you’re facing a hostile contact, politely end the conversation and try again later.

5. Thou shalt take copious notes when pitching. Keep track of who you’re reaching out to, the date and time of each attempt to reach them, and a diary of what was discussed. These notes are incredibly important when updating the client and you can always reference them the next time you have to pitch that contact for this client or the next one.

6. Thou shalt update your client. Don’t keep pitch progress a secret and don’t make it a mystery. It’s just as important to share the successes with your client as the failures. Use your detailed notes from commandment number five to keep the client looped into the process.

7. Thou shalt research editorial calendars and find appropriate fits for the client. Keep a master calendar for all relevant opportunities and keep track of lead times so you don’t miss something good. Contact the editor well in advance of the deadline to find out who is writing the story and what sort of content will fill it.

8. Thou shalt be smart about photos. Make sure your photos are 300 DPI JPGs. If they aren’t, get to know the basics of Photoshop so you can make the changes to the images. Have them at arm’s length when pitching reporters.

9. Thou shalt name files intelligently. A good rule of thumb is to include the client’s name, a BRIEF description and the date. We typically use an underscore to separate each bit of information. For example: Snackbox_FAQ_041210

10. Thou shalt not send attachments until AFTER the reporter has said, “Yes, I’d like more information.” When sending a news release, copy and paste that booger into the body of the email. Don’t expect the reporter to open attachments from strangers, don’t unnecessarily clog up their inbox, and don’t you dare send a virus.