Research shows that we humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (gulp), and that our attention spans are declining at a rapid pace every year: http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/. In fact, in a recent article in USA Today, the NBA is even considering shortening games – yes you read it! – actually shortening their games due to millennial attention spans! So what is one to do in this fast paced world of PR and Journalism fraught with all of our mutual shortening attention spans?
According to Cision, 70 percent of journalists spend no more than one minute on every email they open. It’s not because they don’t care – it’s because their inboxes are constantly full, and they just don’t have the time. Journalists are primed to be more inundated than ever in 2017, making the yen and yang of the journalist/publicist relationship increasingly important.
Here are 5 quick tips and reminders of how to make your pitches stand out and keep them on point in 2017:
- Follow the KISS Principle. In other words, Keep it Simple, Stupid! When writing to journalists, only include facts, and highlight important points in bullets. The days of long, wordy press releases and pitches are over. If a journalist is interested in your subject, they will contact you for more details or information. Position yourself and your client as a resource for them.
- Treat subject lines like headlines. We are living in a twitter universe, and it’s now more important than ever for your email subject lines to be treated like headlines to grab attention. Anything that requires a journalist to spend more than a few seconds to decide if they should click open on your emails is a waste of effort.
- Do your research. When was the last time you actually responded to a Mass Email saying “Hi There” or Hello (“enter first and last name”)? Personalization is key to let a journalist know that you actually know their name and the subjects that they cover.
- Cold calling is dead. It may be a generational thing, but many journalists don’t consider the phone as an ideal means of communication, because it puts them on the spot for making a decision, and also can interrupt their all-encompassing deadlines. Most journalists prefer email pitches because they can research your story and respond thoughtfully when they have a break in their schedule.
- Just ask! If you aren’t sure what a journalist wants from a good pitch, just ask! I can’t tell you how much better luck I have when pitching when I actually ask a journalist (via email!) what they are looking for in a pitch and a story. And many have told me that they actually appreciate it! The key is to develop a meaningful long-term relationship so that journalists get to know and trust you, and know that you won’t be wasting their time.
PR and journalism are two sides of the same coin and we should be working together to reduce the unnecessary tension that comes from miscommunication. Happy pitching!