How does PR work
The actual process of getting in touch with a reporter/influencer is often referred to as ‘pitching’ or ‘outreach’. You call them up, you drop them an email, you get introduced to mutual connections. Whatever works.
A pitch call can be nerve-wrecking. Imagine how all the work you’ve put into finding, extracting and packaging the client’s story can dissolve and how it comes down to whether or not your pitch will be successful.
When you pitch via phone, you need to be able to put forth your story in a way that quickly resonates with the reporter. First, you have a couple of seconds to explain why the reporter shouldn’t just hang up on you. Then, if you can get them interested, you might have an additional fifteen seconds to pitch your story.
Some of this comes down to technique and experience. Pitchers tend to develop their own unique style of pitching. I was a natural when it came to really understanding and being passionate about my pitch. But I had to practice how to effectively close, since I wasn’t a natural salesperson.
If you’ve pitched reporters and influencers for a long time and you’ve done it well, then you’ll be able to pitch people who respects your ability to serve up great news stories. These reporters will “listen with both ears” when you pitch, so you can definitely earn your stripes with experience.
However, technique and experience matters little if your pitch is weak. If your pitch is weak — don’t even try to pitch it. Don’t waste anyone’s time. Make the pitch better instead!
Can you pitch your own stories to the traditional news media? Without being a PR professional?
1. Respect the reporter’s/influencer’s time. Only give them a news story if you feel 100% certain that they will be grateful to you for serving it to them exclusively. And practice your pitch on a colleague before placing your call. In short — do your homework.
2. Focus on the conflict. Conflict’s what makes news stories interesting. A great story is a story that someone out there don’t want to see published. This is a challenge for any business who want to see their own positive stories in print. How to make it interesting?
3. Think outside-in and be honest. When discussing the story with the reporter, don’t talk about why the story’s important for you and your business. Talk about why the story’s important for the reporter’s readers. And if you for some reason can’t be 100% honest, don’t pitch.
Now, traditional publicity work as described above is a part of working with PR. But PR is so much more (as you can see from several of the answers in this thread)! Also, I’ve described how to work with news stories which isn’t the same thing as doing outreach to bloggers; working with bloggers have a different dynamic and a different process!