In our meeting last Wednesday, we heard from speaker Michael E. Martin, an Assignment Editor for FOX 17. As assignment editor, Michael receives over thousands of emails and phone calls everyday from people claiming their stories should receive airtime. Michael’s job is to sort through all of those emails and decide which ones are newsworthy. This kind of task changes day to day and some stories can be cut short if something more newsworthy comes along in the middle of a shot. So how do we, as PR professionals, make sure our story is getting airtime? Michael touched on many of the “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to contacting media teams:
- Write an organized email with the facts clearly laid out.
- Put the name of the assignment editor you are reaching out to in the subject line. This personalizes the email and draws more attention.
- Attach web content, photos, and videos that could potentially be used for the story.
- Maintain a friendly relationship with local media organizations. They are more likely to air your news over someone else’s of they can trust you.
- Assume that your story is going to pop on the evening news right away. Rejection is part of the business.
- Call and badger assignment editors to make sure they received your story and are going to run it.
- Write a long, novel-sized email that never gets to the point of your story.
- Send only a news release in your email.
- Use jargon and fancy words in your news release that will confuse editors. They don’t have time to research every little word.
Ultimately, the most important thing a public relations professional can do is understand and respect the people working in the media. The job of media professionals revolves around what news is relevant at that specific time. While one person may think their story is important, the station gets to make that call and that has to be respected. Remember, the relationship between PR professionals and journalists should be mutually beneficial. Treat those in the media how you would want to be treated.