Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Several times a week I find myself scratching my head. I shake my head in wonder. I feel frustrated with the lack of consideration, the lack of know-how, the lack of experience being exhibited from an industry I care very much about. Other times, I just hit the delete key. What leaves me baffled?  The amount of email I get.

You’re probably thinking you get a lot of email too. But I get unique messages – not quite spam, but not relevant to me in any way.  I receive “pitches” from public relations and marketing firms.  All kinds.  From everywhere.  But I’m not a reporter, a journalist or an editor.  I’m one of them. A public relations professional.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so many “tips” from so many different people, organizations and agencies.  But then it hit me.  It’s because of this very column. You see, I’ve been writing about marketing, advertising and communication for some time in this publication.  Apparently, I landed on a media contact list.  The rest is history.

Today is an excellent time to be a public relations professional. But only if you grasp the context of what you are trying to achieve. According to Cision’s 2023 State of the Media report, journalists report receiving between 51-100 pitches per week. Of the journalists surveyed, “only seven percent said the majority of pitches they get are relevant to their audience.”

The report also shares that when asked what communicators can do to make their job easier, journalists ranked the following according to their level of importance:

  • Understand my target audience (74%)
    • Provide data and expert sources (66%)
    • Stop spamming me (46%)
    • Understand and respect my deadlines (42%)
    • Provide short pitches with facts (38%)
    • Include multimedia assets (27%)

I’ve been in public relations decades. I know the power of earned media. Public relations professionals play a crucial role in communicating between organizations and the media. We should aim to provide the utmost value in all of our interactions, especially with the media. The rising cost of paid advertising makes it difficult for many businesses and organizations to get their message heard.  But with a little strategy, you can go far. But you have to know who you are contacting, and why.

Successful public relations campaigns are no longer measured by the size of the audience reached. The focus is on quality of attention.  Engaging with niche markets, local news, and specialized channels like podcasts has proven more effective. It reflects the concept of building trust, awareness, credibility, and authority; the foundational and fundamental building blocks of public relations.

Create content that resonates and sparks conversations, shares, and a strong community presence. Assist journalists by offering access to qualified industry experts, data, studies and market research that support those compelling story angles. An impactful data-driven story angle goes far beyond self-advertisement. Narratives that incorporate unexpected insights or present exclusive data are particularly compelling.

Put simply, it means that there’s no replacement for doing the job right. Although the topics covered in my emails are often interesting, it indicates reliance on lists rather than research and building relationships. The pitches I receive about the climate, new health miracles, electric bicycles, organic make-up, the history of embroidery, and many more unrelated topics are going nowhere when they reach me. Sorry. When reaching out to the media, know your audience as well as you know your customers and clients.

By the way, did you know that bugs contain a lot of fiber and that laying on your back for at least 10 minutes every day watching clouds leads to less stress?  If not, you should see my email.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-638-7127; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; X @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.

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