Get It Right: Following Up With Journalists

It’s a cutthroat business pitching to journalists. If they like what you have to say, you might hear back from them immediately, but if all you receive is radio silence that lasts longer than a day or two… well, sorry. Your pitch probably didn’t make the cut, and you have some damage control to do.

Journalists are busy people – busier than ever these days as newsroom resources are squeezed – and simply don’t have the time to meticulously read every single email. So, what can you do to earn their attention?

Following up after sending a press release or pitch might feel a little awkward sometimes, but too bad! It’s a necessary step to ensuring you land your story, and if you approach your follow-up in the right way, you’ll pique the journalist’s interest:

Be original

The journalist in question might have ignored or deleted your email (don’t take it personally) so it’s important to follow-up with the all the relevant information at hand – including anything that might not have been present in your original pitch. Keep track of the reporter’s recent articles to find out what they are currently writing about, and come up with an original angle based off relevant and recent trends. This will make you stand out, and the journalist is more likely to appreciate the extra effort.

Be familiar with your client 

If you want your pitch to land, you have to understand your client’s business inside and out. The journalist will decide whether they’re worth covering or not, and you’ve got to make them look good by being able to answer all questions (within reason or limitations set by the client) in order to lock down that interview. While the details you share with the journalist will vary depending on the publication, having a solid idea of your client’s business model, revenue (if that’s public information), and top leadership will greatly help you.

Make it personal

One of the biggest reasons pitches get declined is the lack of personalisation and a lazy, sweeping approach that journos can spot a mile away. Journalists receive dozens of emails in a day from businesses who claim to be interesting – but how is your client really interesting to their readers and why should they care? Deliver stories that are new and relevant to their target audience. Understand what that particular journalist covers and is interested in, and consider a new angle that your client might slot nicely into.

Don’t call multiple times

While waiting for a response can be nerve-wracking, resist the urge to call multiple times, spam their inboxes, or hunt them down on social media. An initial follow-up soon after sending a pitch is fine to make sure they’ve received it, but then let some time pass (ideally 2-3 days) before chasing again. Don’t be clingy and desperate – no one likes that.

Find the right time

Journalists like to be pitched to in the morning (between 9am and 11am, or earlier) because that’s the best time for them to decide what they will be working on for the day, and present it to their editors during news meetings. Remember, you’re not the only one under pressure to create a story.

Need help crafting your next pitch? Drop us a line at [email protected]!

Using data to get media attention isn’t as hard as you think

Your company is not special. Your product is probably not “revolutionary”. Very few people care that your best-selling system has a new feature – and I guarantee no one cares that you hired a new CFO.  

Sorry (not sorry) for the hard truths, but the simple fact is that most companies still don’t understand what makes a good story. What you think makes a great story is probably not the same as what a journalist considers to be a great story – this is mainly because journalists know their readers won’t care about what you have to say. To make things harder, shrinking newsrooms translate to journalists being more stretched than ever, so your press release will often go unread and that interview you pitched will likely never happen.

Now that’s all out of the way, it’s time for the good news: the best stories you possess have actually been at your disposal this whole time. Okay, there might be some digging around to find the right spreadsheets, but the point is you’re probably already sitting on a goldmine and you don’t even know it. 

Because the way to get a journalist’s attention is with – say it with me now – DATA! 

Even if you don’t have anything interesting to say, you can create news with data. When handled the right way and moulded into a usable story, data can deliver the media attention you have always wanted, but have never been able to achieve – even with paid content. 

But first, a quick PR lesson

Before we can talk about why data is essential to your PR strategy, we need to touch on why public relations might not currently be working for you. If you’ve been burned before by agencies that promise the world, but only hand over a ‘strategy’ that relies on press releases, then this is especially relevant for you: 

Despite what you may think, you are not important. A story is never going to be about how awesome your company or product is – that is not news. News is a story that’s broader than an announcement of something new (unless that new thing is incredibly timely). News is something that has impact and affects people’s lives or businesses. It’s timeliness, something close to  what we value, and something that carries a human interest angle or solves a conflict. News is unique and it carries consequences. News is not hyperbole and exaggerated claims of being “the best”, “the newest” or “the most revolutionary”. 

Your goal to get the media’s attention is to provide a reason for them to write about you. This means selling them a story, not a product, and avoiding your usual press releases chock-full of corporate jargon that says a lot about, well, nothing. If your press releases and pitches haven’t been picked up, it likely because you or your agency haven’t figured out how to tell your story in a compelling way. You need to speak the journalists’ language and give them information that can be turned into news – this is why they love data. 

Create the news for journalists using your own data 

If you think the only way to share news is via press releases, then how are you going to get anything written about you in between each pitch? When there’s no news to share, data is a vehicle that can be used to create news and provide new avenues and angles for journalists to explore, based on real, unique statistics that tell a story. There are a couple of ways you can do this: 

  1. Use a research agency to run a survey: This is the most expensive option, but a streamlined way to gather new data on a particular topic or issue across a broad sample. A good PR agency will get involved at the early stage of survey creation, ensuring the right questions are being asked to get the headlines you want at the other end.
  2. Run your own survey: You might not have the money for a research agency, but perhaps you have a big database of clients and customers? There are an abundance of online tools that allow you to send out surveys and questions to your existing and potential customers. Some agencies (*cough cough, hello!*) can help you manage this entire process from end-to-end to ensure you get the best and most accurate data.
  3. Delve into your own existing data: Chances are you’re sitting on a mountain of data that can actually be used to tell a story – you just need someone to identify what that story may be. This is why it’s often good to connect your communications team or agency to other parts of the business (such as the sales team) to better understand what data you have, and then to provide guidance on how it can be used in PR.
  4. Use third party research paired with your own thought leadership: If you don’t have any of the above, it doesn’t matter. There is so much research out there you can draw from to create interesting whitepapers and tip sheets on a topic. Add in some high-level commentary and thought leadership from your company’s key spokespeople, and you’ve got yourself a pretty compelling piece of content to share. 

Reverse engineer your approach 

When constructing your survey and data-led approach, you need to consider your end goals and work backwards from the headlines you want to achieve. This is why it’s so important to work with an agency partner that has a strong editorial team and understanding of how news editors operate. If you can provide a media outlet with exactly the right kind of headline and angle, you’re more likely to get the epic coverage you’re craving. 

For example, let’s say a recruitment company is looking to increase its contract roles in light of the growing gig economy, and needs to attract more employers to enlist their services in filling these roles. Ideally, they’re hoping to gain awareness via a PR push that gets their company name and expertise in front of their target demographic across trade and business publications.

The agency, understanding these goals, suggests a survey of both employees and employers in their target market and industries to find out what the biggest needs, challenges, and misconceptions are about gig economy workers, their salary expectations, key attraction factors and ultimate career goals. The survey questions are constructed to gather the most relevant information that can be used individually and comparatively, to result in potential compelling headlines such as: 

“One in three companies in Singapore are expanding workplace benefits to cover ‘gig’ talent” 

Or 

“Growth in Singapore’s gig economy workers set to grow by 30% in 2020” 

By understanding the types of headlines a client wants to achieve (specific to each target publication, of course) the agency can construct a better, more effective survey that asks the right questions. The end result? A compelling story that can be told in a newspaper, via a live broadcast interview, or written into a professionally designed report to share with both media and client customers. 

We won’t lie: a lot of work is required to turn this from ideation to execution, but the outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, for one of our clients, a SG$15,000 investment in data-led insights resulted in a 3,000% ROI via the creation of a report and a push via PR and lead generation campaign.  

The content you can create with the right data is a story that never stops being told. Your data belongs to you, and you can use it across social media, to write blogs or to create entire advertising campaigns. You can continue to refer to your unique statistics and data-led insights for years to come, building crucial credibility and educating your customers not only on what you do, but why they should give a crap.

Need help talking to journalists? Drop us a line at [email protected]

 

How to master the art of following up with journalists  

As a rule of thumb: if a journalist is interested in your story, he or she will likely respond immediately. So, if you haven’t heard back it’s probably because your pitch note didn’t make the cut.

Having said that, it’s also important to remember that reporters are a notoriously busy lot and often don’t have the time to read every email they receive. So, how do you catch their attention?

Following up after sending a press release or pitch note can feel a little awkward, but it’s a necessary part of the job – and if done right can help to make your placement happen. Here are some tips to do it in a tactful and non-intrusive manner:

Say something original

A journalist may have inadvertently deleted your email or simply chosen to ignore it – either way it is important that your follow up focus on conveying information that wasn’t in the original pitch. Read the reporter’s last few articles to see what he or she is currently tracking and then relate the information in the press release to relevant and related trends.

Know your client

Pitching is one thing, but answering questions from journalists as they decide whether or not your client is worth covering is another. You’ve got to know your client inside-out. The details that matter may vary depending on the publication you’re speaking to, but keeping tabs on your client’s business model, revenue (if that’s public), growth and leadership team will help you and your pitch stand out.

Personalise your pitch

Lack of personalisation is one the biggest reasons pitches get declined. For one, it shows you haven’t done your homework, but more importantly it’s downright rude. Journalists receive dozens of emails a day – so make their lives easier by sharing stories that are relevant to their sectors. Take the time to get to know journalists, the beats they cover, and the stories they track.

Don’t make multiple calls

While twiddling your thumbs waiting for a response, resist the urge to make multiple phone calls, spam reporters’ inboxes, or worse, reach them on social media. Instead, let some time pass (ideally 2-3 days) – and then call them on the phone to present your case and determine their interest in the opportunity.

Pick a good time

Research shows that journalists prefer to be pitched to between 9 am and 11 am because that’s the best time for them to figure out what they’re going to write that day and present it at editor meetings, which typically happen after 11 am.  And remember, you’re not the only one under pressure to deliver a story!

Looking for some inspiration for your next pitch? Drop a message to [email protected] 

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5 tips to get media coverage for your brand

“Hello. I just sent you a press release about my client—a semiconductor company launching a new design for its latest power adaptors. Could you publish it on your website?”…Except I write for a marketing and advertising magazine.

I can’t recall the number of times I’ve had to politely and curtly tell eager PR executives that I wasn’t interested in what they were pitching. But I can tell you how many times I have received a good, well-rounded and articulate pitch– 15 maybe 20 times in nine years. That’s shockingly disproportionate for two professions that have so much in common.

When engaging with the media,please consider these tips from an ex journalist who has recently made the jump to PR.

  1. Know the publication and journalist’s beat

    Please spend time researching the publication and journalist. I’ve been called “Mr. Iyer” more times than I’m willing to admit. It is off-putting and offensive to call someone, not know their correct name, and not have a clue about what they cover. Referencing some of the journalist’s previous work and demonstrating how your client’s content fits in is a huge plus.

  1. Presentation

    In today’s fast-paced, competitive content hungry environment, journalists are far more willing to write something when you give them a good, relevant story. Think of a fresh angle and build it into a wider narrative. Please do not cc the entire world in your emails—certainly not reporters and editors at rival publications.

  1. Expectations matter

    Just because all publications have digital versions doesn’t mean they are going to change words and sentences to suit clients whims and fancies. There are house-styles to adhere to and it’s a reporter’s job to bring in different perspectives. So unless something is factually incorrect, please try to manage expectations as best as you can.

  1. The race for exclusives

    Journalists will lap up anything with the word exclusive. If you can’t offer an exclusive on some big news, arranging an interview with a top executive from the firm in question could be useful. Pitching a sensible follow-up could also earn you brownie points.

  1. The follow up

    This is a big pain point. A journalist will typically show interest in a story idea immediately. If he/she is somewhat interested I would recommend following up once presenting new information or context. Find out what additional information or angle would work better. But please do not spam or call someone everyday. Move on to the next publication.

Whether you work in PR or are simply looking to get your brand noticed by the media, it’s critical to do your research and creatively frame every single pitch.

If you need help developing a compelling story and delivering the right messages to the media, get in touch with us at [email protected].

 

5 PR tips to get you through the festive season

So, you’ve made it to December. You’re probably wondering where the last 11 months have gone, but hey ho, it’s now time to start looking ahead.

December is a month that is notoriously filled with back-to-back celebrations. From year-end parties to Christmas and New Year gatherings, it’s full on – but it’s also a time where some people (and businesses) slow down as they mentally prepare for the next year.

However, the media doesn’t stop. Newspapers and magazines are still being published, and TV news doesn’t take a holiday either. Journalists are always on the lookout for new stories and ideas – in fact, this slower time of year often means journos are keener than ever to be approached with thoughtful content. It’s basically a prime time to pitch!

Here are some PR tips to help arm you throughout the festive season and keep your business on track well into the New Year:

  1. Pitch, pitch, pitch!

The worst thing you can do is go silent during this month. Instead, keep pitching and stay in touch with key journalists. Research what’s trending and create content pieces or use past ideas and share them with the media. Keep things fun, and where possible make it relevant to the festive season. Even if your story isn’t immediately picked up, the journalists have you on their radar for any future stories, and you can follow up come January with a fresh pitch.

  1. Become a social butterfly

It is the party season after all! So get out there and spread those wings. Meet new people, attend industry events, parties and talks. Chances are you’ll bump into members of the media or like-minded people that may have an interest in your business. Have fun, but keep your PR radar on for any opportunities to spread the good word about your brand!

  1. Keep connected

Yes, your usual media contacts may be away enjoying their holidays but there will be other writers and editors you can connect with. This will also help expand your PR network and database in general. Stay on top of your target publications and check out who’s writing stories that are relevant. If you’re not sure who’s holding the fort while your closest journalist contacts are away on holiday, pick up the phone and find out.

  1. Stay socially active

Whatever your do, don’t forget to remain active on social media. Today’s consumers live and breathe social all year round, and this includes Christmastime. Whether you are manually posting on your company’s chosen platforms or using management and scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, make sure you have a strategy in place – even if you are on holiday. Staying active helps keep your brand top of mind and maintain the traction you’ve built up throughout the year. Download our social media content calendar template to help you map out your social plans across the next month and into the New Year.

  1. Plan ahead

Given December is a quieter month, use this time to plan your PR calendar for the New Year. Map out your communications goals and get prepped for new announcements or launches which you know are happening in 2017. Create plans, make calendars and add in tentative timelines to stay on track with execution, ensuring you start the New Year off with a bang!

So what are you waiting for? If you need advice on how to use the festive period to your advantage, get in touch with us at [email protected].

 

How I got schooled by a 16 year old while trying to do my job

I thought the times of me being put on the spot at meetings were over. I’ve had practice of dealing with different personalities at many different meetings before, both professional and personal. We all have that one difficult friend or client that deserves an honest piece of your advice.

But what I wasn’t prepared for, was a simple, innocent question by a 16-year-old high schooler at a business meeting. I was there to discuss about a social awareness campaign that involved charity work by students from different secondary schools. They were packing meals for the needy.

A client was sponsoring the initiative so we had to step in and help out with some PR. Our conversation went something like this:

Me, overzealous: “I think this is a great media opportunity, maybe we can discuss some great story angles and objectives about the campaign to pitch to the media.”

Student, sassy: “Well, the objective is to stop world hunger and feed hungry people, who are dying everyday from starvation.”

That, I did not expect. It was a legitimate argument, because shouldn’t world hunger be enough of a reason for media to care and write about?

I wasn’t angry, nor did I blame the student. The poor guy was sincerely puzzled and confused.

I calmly gathered my thoughts and realised that it was time to take a step back, and bring it back to the basics. As PR professionals, we need to help our clients understand what it takes for us to do our job properly, while helping to achieve their goals.

So what is it that we do exactly? Here is a simple break down:

  1. Angles (Gathering of information)

We need as much information as possible. With this information, we will pick out the most important angles we can use for the press release. Tell us about the who, the why, the what, the when and the how – we’re all ears.

Stopping world hunger is a legit reason, but what sets Stop Hunger Now apart from Oxfam, Red Cross, or The Salvation Army, who are all sharing the objective of feeding the needy?

  1. Press release (Storytelling)

We help tell the story about your brand, and why it is worth writing about in the media. Yeah sure, we’ll add a bit of fluff in there – but most importantly we only write about the facts, nothing in there is made up or a lie.

  1. Media pitching (Persuasion)

Journalists are very busy people, they get tons of emails and sometimes our emails get buried under piles of other releases. This is when we pick up the phone, and have some one-on-one time with a specific journalist.

It can get quite nerve wracking, speaking to someone unfamiliar on the phone and trying to pitch an idea to them. This, thankfully, only gets better with practice. Once you know the journalists, their style and personality, you’ll gain confidence in persuading and become more eloquent in trying to deliver your message.    

     4. Media coverage (Public opinion)

This is what it’s all about! Getting your story published and hearing people talk about your brand can be a great feeling. People read the news, and we always aim for a positive story. This plays an important part in informing and swaying public opinion, about the good and bad of your company.

We help educate about your brand and to support it. Media coverage is one of the best and foolproof ways to do this.

If you need help with your PR campaign, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

 

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Building A Powerful Media List

Behind every published news article, is a compelling media story and a PR pro’s powerful stash of press contacts. This stash comes in the form of a targeted list, consisting of the contact details of new editors and journalists.

Pulling a new list together for your business is no easy feat, and can take hours on end. With the availability of media database programmes, this task’s been made much simpler. These programmes however, often involve hefty fees.

To those who are feeling the pinch of investing in such programmes, this cheat sheet is made just for you.

Who do I want to read my news?

Building your own media target list is not rocket science, but it does require some thought. For starters, consider who your audience is, and the most relevant media outlets to best reach out to them.

Besides naming these publications, break the publications down into their individual sections – think the business section of a local newspaper, or the food section of a magazine. This will effectively narrow down the scope of your search, saving you a great deal of time.

Look into major newspapers and relevant magazines

Luckily for us, most newspaper journalists have their email addresses embedded alongside their news stories. If a writer touches on a topic or story you consider to be relevant for your business, take his or her email address down.

For the magazines, check out the foreword section. It will give you a quick overview of the magazine’s editorial team and the details of the various magazine section editors.

With this, you are well on your first step to building your targeted media list.

Get online and social

If you can’t seem to locate a particular journalist’s contact details within the print publications, tapping into the online counterparts of the news outlets can be helpful. If not, move on over to the journalist’s social media pages such as LinkedIn, Twitter or even blogs.

Along the way, you will probably even learn much more about the journalist – everything from their high school, the event they have just attended and a collection of past stories they’ve covered. This knowledge can come in handy as talking points when you are in touch with the journalist.

‘Make up’ the journalists’ email

If you pay enough attention to the email addresses of journalists from the same publication, you may begin to notice how the make up of their emails remain consistent across the board.

When necessary, play around with the journalist’s first and last name to try and “guess” his email address in context of the others in the same publication. If you have the journalist’s name right, chances are, you will get the email right as well.

For example: A journalist’s email in a certain publication could look something like [email protected], combining the journalist’s first and last name to create the email address.

Suppose you’re seeking the email of another journalist within the same publication or group, your guess would then reflect the above.

If still you still can’t locate a journalist…

Simply pick up the phone and get in touch with the editorial department of the various media outlet. When on the line, be clear with the purpose of your call and whom exactly you are after.

I’m sure these friendly folks will be more than glad to assist you.

Retain the list, keep it up-to-date

Getting your list ready is one of the stepping-stones to getting the word out about your business, but the work does not end there.

Due to the nature of the industry, journalists move around, and they do it fast. As such, you will need to be on top of these movements, ensuring that your media lists are always updated with the freshest press contacts, or risk having your news stories fall off the face of the earth.

Repeat the steps above over and again – including new contacts when you spot them, and removing contacts when their emails stop working.

Need assistance on maximising the reach of your press materials? Get in touch with us directly at [email protected].

 

Inviting the media: the do’s and don’ts for a full house

Media events are a crucial part of the work we do at Mutant for clients both big and small. From intimate food tastings to large festivals, we’ve done them all. Much more than just a boozy knees-up, a well executed media event has the ability to build the hype and momentum needed to give a campaign gravitas.

Once the event has been decided on, the venue booked, budget confirmed and itinerary planned, all you now need to do is get the right people attending. It’s harder than you might think when you consider that your event is just one in an ocean of other media engagements.

Here are some of the most important do’s and don’ts to ensure that no seats go empty:

DO –  Think about who makes the list.

It’s not just about going for numbers. You need to ensure that your ultimate campaign objective is front and centre of everything you do, and that starts with knowing who you want to attend.

You should always have clear objectives. What is your event trying to achieve? Media coverage? Lead generation? Having a clear objective helps decide the kind of target numbers you should aim for. Decide all of this before you pick up the phone.

Small-scale intimate events like food or drink-tastings mean you have to be super selective about who you invite, otherwise you risk compromising the quality of the event. For a small intimate event you want ideally no more than 10-15 people. This allows you and/or your client to spend quality time with each of them. If lead generation is your aim then you want media to come in droves and don’t need to be too picky. 30 or more would be ideal for this although bear in mind that the size of an event space makes a big impact on how busy an event feels.  

DON’T – Ignore the plus ones

This can seem counterproductive and a waste of  budget but members of the media are actually just like you, with social lives, and friends. Torn between a work event and dinner with a friend – many would choose the latter.

If bringing a partner or friend sways their decision, then think about how important their attendance really is. If the cost of an extra ticket means that an influential journalist comes along and writes a full page feature, then it is money well spent in the long run.

Talk to the journalist, see if they have an angle in mind and help them find one if they dont. If you can bring them to the point where a story angle is already well formed in their head, then you can be more confident in justifying the extra expense of a plus one to your client.

In the end, use your discretion. Is the potential coverage worth an extra seat? If so then do it.

DON’T – Be afraid of hand-holding

It’s simple – make it very easy for the media to come along. This can range from sending comprehensive written (or even video) directions to find the event space, to organising their own private parking space (I actually have had to do this before). Think long-term, you want this to foster a lasting relationship with the media. Try to delight them as much as the client and they will trust you as a source of a good story, and come back again.

DO – Think Willy Wonka.

A bit of mystery and intrigue goes a long way.

Spill the beans from the start and the media little incentive to come along. The event needs to provide some exclusive value to them whether it be an interview opportunity, an announcement or an experience so always explain the value that this event will provide them. This is why we generally avoid providing the menu for a food-tasting beforehand, so that the media arrive curious. It’s good to find a balance between telling them the information they need to know, but still keeping a bit of the mystery alive.

Need help with media invites? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Press-event-CTA

Pitching perfect: 6 tips PR pros should know before picking up the phone

Media pitching takes tact and research. It’s a means to much of what the public sees today, whether it’s a published news story, a successful media event or the general hype surrounding a brand or product.

Securing a media placement can be the best feeling in the world, but here’s what happens along the way that no one will tell you about:

Journalists want to know how you can help them

Not the other way around. When pitching a story make sure you tell the journalist how your product or service can benefit their readers. With multiple editorial deadlines looming above their heads, journalists are no-nonsense individuals.

To make things easier for both of you, avoid engaging in too much small talk when you’re on the phone. Cut to the chase on what you have to offer.

Don’t pitch between 9 and 11am

You’ve got a piece of news you’re so excited about and you just want to pitch it over the phone first thing in the morning. But guess what? The newsrooms are the busiest in the morning, as editors and journalists come together and work hard to gather all the news to be published or broadcasted.

This also means that no one’s going to be available to pick up your call – for a couple of hours at least.

The trick to get around this is to drop a pitch email early enough in the morning, so journalists can pick the story up and bring it into the newsroom. Who knows this could even mean your story gets picked up without much pitching or following up!

Skip the pitch on a Friday

Like you and I, journalists wrap up for their week on Fridays, getting themselves ready to wind down for the weekend. Even if it’s just a pitch email, a seasoned PR pro will know to stay clear of Fridays.

Unless it’s breaking news, the probability of journalists looking into your pitch is almost non-existent. By Monday, your pitch would have been drowned out by hundreds of other fresh pitches for the week.

Pitch at your own risk!

A friend on the inside helps

Cultivating a healthy friendship with a member of the media can help with achieving far greater results in a shorter amount of time – think picking up the phone and sharing a story with a friend.

When you’ve established that relationship, your media friend will be more open about sharing with you the reasons your pitch wasn’t picked up, or even what they’re looking for to supplement their stories.

Do however be mindful that not every journalist is comfortable or open to becoming your best buddy. Respect their boundaries when the time comes and remain professional.

Tailor your pitches like an Armani suit

Before picking up the phone, write down the name of the journalist, their title, their beat, the publication, and your angle.

The secret formula to landing a news story is to never get started without any prior research about whom you’re calling. By research, I mean reading up about the journalist you’re pitching to, learning more about what they write about, and what they’ve just written about.

Grow thicker skin

Rejection can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s nothing personal. There are a number of reasons why you got turned down: The angle doesn’t fit with the editorial brand or audience, it had already been covered, or there is just no sellable angle.

At the end of the day, this will all mould you into the toughest PR pro who can remain unfazed in face of rejection. Don’t be dejected, pick up the phone and keep dialing.

Need advice on pitching your next big story? CTA desingns (1)-01

Get in touch with us at [email protected] for help with your next pitch!

5 ways to get booed off stage

Pretty much all great orators – the ones who can talk to 10,000 people while giving off that ‘just having a casual chat with my mate on the sofa’ vibe – can do what they do because they have a lot of practice under their belts. Many have also probably had media training.

Public speaking with impact takes practice and planning. All companies worth their salt understand the importance their ambassadors have in representing their brand, and invest in experts like us at Mutant to help develop confident and compelling delivery.

However, we’ve seen plenty of people who have decided to jump in front of an audience without proper training, thinking they know what they’re doing (can anyone say crash and burn?)

Here are five of the most effective but un-obvious ways to completely lose your audience.

1. Inflate that ego, Narcissus.

“I really really want the audience to like me!”

If you want to alienate your audience and make them instantly dislike you, put yourself before them.

Essentially, your approach to public speaking is all wrong if you aren’t considering what your audience is going to get out of your speech or presentation. You should be asking yourself, “what do I want the audience to leave with, and how do I make this as easy for them to understand as possible?

A presentation should be planned, written and practised with the audience in mind. This might include:

– Explaining to the audience why you are there and what you are going to present
– Speak important points slowly and repeat them if necessary – but not to the point of condescension
– Conclude by recapping on salient point.

Just remember your audience likely doesn’t know the content as well as you do, so be nice, personable and make your presentation an enjoyable experience – not something they have to survive through.

2. Have absolutely no idea who you’re talking to

Who are your audience? Are they industry leaders? Experienced professionals? Media? Or fresh-faced young talent with a blank slate and open minds? Let the audience inform your delivery.

If they are experts in your field, feel free to dive deep on the detail, acronyms and jargon. If not, calibrate accordingly. It’s surprising how many people get this wrong.

3. Keep it boring, stale, and loooooooooooooong

Even if you’re speaking to a room of industry heavyweights, don’t make the mistake of trying to show superior intelligence by being verbose. Using impenetrable language and stretching one point into five alienates your audience, turns them off and bores them to death. At worst, you might make them think you have something to hide (I could have used the word obfuscate but then, but I chose not to, precisely for this reason.)

TED speakers aren’t allowed to exceed 18 minutes for their presentations. You have a precious time limit for the audience’s attention, who will probably only leave remembering three of your points. Choose them wisely and give them impact.

4. Leave them wanting…less?

A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” – Winston Churchill

Thanks for the typically uncouth quote Winston, but you get the point. This massively applies to a presentation where you want to signpost the audience onto something else. It could be to a product, another event or even an interview with your client. Spill all of the beans and they wont have any need to pursue it further.

5. Over rely on scripts and slides

“I’ll read from my script. That way I’ll avoid the risk of saying the wrong thing or forgetting my point.”

No, no, and no. A speech, presentation or interview is about having a conversation. Even if you’re the only one talking on stage, you’re trying to create a dialogue – not a monologue – between yourself and the audience, and the only way to do that is to talk, not read, and be engaging while you do it.

You want people to walk away believing two things:

a) You believe in your stuff
b) You know your stuff

Yes, it’s good to prepare. But to rely on a script equals less engagement and snoring audiences. Your whole tone and body language changes when you read, rather than talk, and it’s highly obvious. Plus, there are the technicalities to be concerned with. What if the projector doesn’t work on the day? What if someone wants to interview you afterwards to clarify or repeat a point? Knowing your key themes and messages will allow you avoid having to re-wind the tape and start over again.

Learn two or three key points you want to convey from each slide and practice making each point off the cuff without crutches. This will make you more natural, relaxed and ultimately more compelling.

Want to learn more about how to better conduct yourself in front of media? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg

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4 media pitching mistakes to avoid

Media pitching is one of the key components making up public relations, but the act of pitching is often easier said than done.

To many people it sounds simple enough: “I’ll just write a press release about my client’s business or event, find some media contacts, and send it to them! They’ll definitely run a story because it’s so interesting.”

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to it than writing and sending emails.

Pitching typically involves a PR professional working with a business to identify key messages, interesting story angles, writing one (or multiple) targeted releases for specific media, and utilising their strong personal connections with media to ensure your story gets the coverage you feel it deserves.

Journalists receive a phenomenal number of press releases every day. The chances they won’t even open an email from you are high. The ball is in your court to do everything possible to ensure your press release reaches the right journalist and media, with the right message that is likely to get the attention of their target audience and readers. That’s what they care about – so that’s what you have to focus on.

And yet, mistakes are so often made during this process, and sometimes the smallest blunders have the biggest consequences. Being aware of the following potential mistakes can make all the difference between a story getting published… or sent to the trash.

Pitching the right story to the wrong media

Imagine you are a journalist, and you cover technology-related news, for example. You receive on average about 20 press releases a day and suddenly, you’re pitched something that has nothing to do with what you write about.

Why should you feel the need to respond to that person if they clearly don’t know what your publication covers?

huge-mistake

It sounds simple, but the mistake of pitching non-relevant content to media is probably the largest error seen in the industry. Under pressure to deliver results for client, PR professionals wrongly assume that blasting out a press release to the maximum number of journalists will result in the most coverage.

Not doing enough research before a pitch reflects very poorly on you as a PR pro and annoys journalists who don’t have time to waste as their deadlines loom.

When pitches land in the wrong inboxes, don’t expect journalists to help forward it on to the relevant parties. It is our job to ensure our pitches land in the right hands, not theirs.

Not looking into your email bounce-backs

If you’re pitching via an email blast, you’re bound to come across email bounce-backs. This could be because journalists have gone on vacation or medical leave, or because they’ve left the publication. Perhaps their overflowing inbox is finally just full.

Your job is to ensure they see your news, so you need to determine why they bounced and do something about it Journalists will usually include alternative email addresses in their automated replies to inform you of fellow journalists to get in touch with for your press releases.

Seize this chance to know someone new from the particular media, re-pitch your story and update your media database!

If that fails – PICK UP THE PHONE. It’s amazing how few PR professionals can be bothered to make a call to follow up (more on that later.)

Losing touch

Public relations is all about connections, networking and relationships. Without this, you’re just a person behind a computer hitting ‘send’ over and over again.

Staying in touch with media is what sets you apart from mediocre PR people. Make an effort to touch base with them regularly, catch up for coffees and lunches, and get into the habit of picking up the phone to say hi. Ask them what they’re working on, and whether you might be able to help. The more you stay in touch, the more likely they are to remember you when they do need something from one of your clients.

conversing

As well as staying in touch, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and time zones. When pitching a story that transcends the region, international pitching comes into play. This also means we need to be more mindful of some aspects that can affect pitching efforts.

Always make it known which time zone you are working from. This saves you from leaving the impression that you are difficult to contact (if, you know, they decide to ring you at 4am). Journalists have pressing deadlines to deal with and with you being out of contact when they will require additional information may result in them forgoing the story altogether.

If you’ll be away from the office for a period of time, ensure your colleagues have been properly briefed on what to expect should they come across any media requests. The last thing you want is to lose the chance of a great story placement from a lack of communication.

 Not following up with media

Like I said, journalists’ inboxes are flooded with press releases – meaning yours probably isn’t all that important to them. If you haven’t heard back from a journalist, it is imperative that you follow up on your pitch with a phone call.

By doing this, you will learn whether the journalist has even seen your pitch or received it at all. This gives you a second chance to bring attention to your story, and pitch over the phone in real time. Usually, this is a much better way to get a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If they say no, you can immediately ask why, and try to see whether there’s any way your story can work better for their publication by focusing on a different aspect or angle.

It’s possible a tweak is all it needed – but you might not have known that if you didn’t pick up the phone.

To discuss how Mutant can work with your business to push your story into the media spotlight, please get in touch with us at [email protected]