I’ve pitched my story, now what?

Public relations concept in word tag cloud on black background

As a junior PR practitioner, you may find yourself at the end of this question. You’ve drafted your amazing pitch, you’ve sent it through to your senior to proof read, and you have done your due diligence to find out what your media contact’s beat is. You then send through the finalised draft as a story pitch. What now?

1.    Practice patience

Well at this point, you do the unthinkable, you simply wait it out. You practice that pesky virtue experienced seniors always talk about – patience. For just a little while, you practice patience. Depending on what kind of news media you pitched to, you’ll have to wait anywhere between two days to a full week before you get a response.

2.    The art of the follow – up

The follow – up is just, if not as important as the pitch. Once you’ve waited a little while to hear from your media contacts, you have to go back and check up on them. See this as a little reminder for them. You need to understand that journalists/ editors/ editorial teams receive countless amounts of pitches on a daily basis, each one promising to be the next best story to hit their publication. So if you show up a week later with a friendly reminder of your story, they may take a second look at it and perhaps give your story a run.

3.    Do not call the publication, I repeat do not call your media contact

It may seem like the next logical thing to do, however this is the opposite of what journalists would have you do. Journalist are always chasing deadlines, so the majority of their time is spent really on writing, submitting and editing their stories, they hardly have enough time to stop and chit chat. To be honest that is what you’d be doing by calling them up, chit chatting. They would remember your name, and dare I say deliberately block you from calling them ever again. Okay maybe they wouldn’t go to those extremes, but they would put up measures to ensure that you never pull a stunt like that ever again.

4.    Move on

You’ve waited it out, you’ve followed-up and you’ve waited on the follow-up now you move on. There is one of two reasons why you’re not getting a response, the media contact will run your story, but has chosen not to respond back to you for whatever reason, or they just won’t run your story at all. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time on this story, so it’s best to move on to something else. A new media publication, a new story, or a new project altogether. To check if your pitch was picked up, keep purchasing the publication for the next three months religiously to see if you made it. It does happen that your story may be used for a story three months down the line because the editor believes that it works better for that season.

 

Do not take it personally. Rejection as you may have come to learn is a daily resultant of working in PR. Simply move on to your next project and repeat the process, and watch yourself become a pro at pitching. The more you pitch, the more you practice and the better your failure tolerance grows. Before you know it, you’ll have your media contacts getting in touch with you asking you for any new developments from your side, personally I think that’s when you’ll know that you’re officially a pro. 

What is PR really

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PR is undoubtedly many things to many people. The focus of this article will look at what is PR to a small business owner, an independent artist and a marketing manager in a big corporate company. All three of these individuals need PR, but they need different aspects of PR altogether. Firstly let’s have a look at why a small business owner would need PR:

 

Why small business owners need PR:

 

Alright so let’s see, you are working on getting new clients, getting your finances in order, trying to figure out if you should hire help or not and. Your “to – do” list is literally arm length, I can assure you that writing your company blog or updating your social media accounts is literally last on that very long list. This is not because you don’t value your image or maintaining relations with your stakeholders, it simply means you just don’t have the time, energy and enough creative muscle to dive in to it.

Your company; no matter what size it is, needs to have some control over the perception audiences have of it. If you want people to think that you’re a company that cares about the community it operates in, you must drive the creation of that perception. If you want your audience to perceive you is a fun, young and very upbeat company, you have to create that perception yourself. The chances are, if you don’t someone whom you do not even know will do that for you.

So how should you go about doing this? Public Relations. You know you don’t have the time, energy and creative force to focus your attention on PR, so why not invest in it. Hire a PR intern to come do some time with you, have them handle your social media with your guidance. If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget, invest in either a professional practitioner or firm aligned with your needs and wants.

Yes price definitely matters, but do your best to conduct research before you put your company’s reputation in someone else’s hands. There truly is a PR agency or PR practitioner out there that will align with your needs and wants and budget. So take the dive and go for it. That is literally one less thing to tick off your list.

 

How about independent artists, why do you need good PR to further your career?

 

Whether you’re a fine artist who enjoys creating using your hands or a recording artist who enjoys creating using your voice, you need to focus on your art to be able to deliver the best. Yet here’s the catch, you need to make money from your talent, just like every other person utilising their talents and skill to live.

How can PR help you achieve this? In this case you need publicity. You need to generate as much “noise” as possible around your current work as possible. You need people to know that you are working on something, you need people to know that you are done working on something you need people to know. Generating attention on your work is a beautiful way to keep your audience involved in your working process. Doing this has become even easier nowadays with the advent rise of social media.

Social media management is a crucial tool for artists that don’t have the necessary budget that sponsored or signed artists have. This gives you a leverage in that you are able to create quality content and most importantly engaging content that both entices and informs your audience. In this case, a Social Media Manager is necessary. You can decide whether you want to hire a Freelancer, an intern or a PR agency. Again this decision will be informed by your budget and your needs and wants for our image.

 

Lastly why do you as a marketing manager need a PR maven on your team?

 

To be blunt, there really isn’t as much money in the marketing budget to fulfil all the marketing needs required by your director or CEO. They want so much more for so much less, and this is where your PR maven comes in to place. As you may or may not know, PR is more than capable of stretching your marketing budget to unheard of lengths. Getting R50 000 worth of marketing for FREE is literally common with PR.

Paying a PR agency or a PR Professional to do for you what your budget limits you to do, is nothing short of necessary. Who else will be able to butter up your stakeholders to pop out even more money towards your company? What about the press relations required to keep your media contacts pumped with news stories about your organisation? These are things that are necessary in ensuring that the image and brand of your company is controlled and maintained by your department, however all of which will cost an arm and a good fit leg to achieve. Invest in good PR and watch just how much bang for your money they’ll be able to get.