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By Matthew Medlin, Account Coordinator

 

Science and art. At first glance, it might seem like the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

But glances can be deceptive.

When it comes to PR, at least, science and art are working together, brush and pen in hand. Or keyboard, as the case may be.

In Muck Rack’s webinar, “The State of Journalism in 2020,” it became readily apparent that both parts are needed if one is to succeed in our modern era (read: crisis).

It’s clear that PR has to be a full-body effort, right down to social interactions. Twitter took the cake, with 88% stating it was the most important social network, and 75% liking when PR professionals follow them.

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Twitter interactions is how many journalists prefer to communicate

 

It’s also a great way for the journalists to track how their story is doing, as 69% note how many times an article of theirs is shared. And that’s just the ones who would admit it.

This doesn’t mean that all of public relations interactions should now take place on Twitter.

On the contrary.

In fact, Twitter is actually seen as the least personal platform, by far. Unless you know someone on the platform personally, keep it that way. Everyone can see what you post, so privacy is pretty much out the window.

More than anything else, as public relations practitioners, keep your eyes up and ear to the ground. Tone, and more specifically, not being tone-deaf, is everything.

In our current crisis, journalists are being inundated with information, pitches and deadlines. They’re working around the clock to get the public the information they need most. And there are consequences to that.

Pitches and interactions with journalists should give context to what’s going on, with an implicit or explicit connection to what’s most important to a journalist and their organization.

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Muck Rack pie chart showing preferred length of pitches

 

Oh, and guidelines for those pitches haven’t much changed from the past: Keep it between two and three paragraphs, try to send it early in the week and make the email as personalized as possible.

When you’re receiving at least five pitches a day from people you’ve never met, I’m sure you’d relegate those that got your name wrong to the trashcan too. Details matter.

So there are aspects of formula to PR. A scientific method, if you will.

But that’s not enough.

The artistry of it all comes with knowing how to read the room. Keeping tabs on what’s happening in their lives will go a long way to being a good communicator.

Are they sick? Is someone they know sick?

How is this affecting their work hours?

Did their beat change?

All of this can be gleaned by practicing the core tenet of public relations: building healthy relationships.

The journalists you pitch to aren’t targets. They’re people with feelings, families and worries. Treating them as such is just good professional practice.

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Muck Rack chart on how journalists perceive their relationship with PR

 

You’ll note that 64% of journalists see PR as a mutually beneficial relationship. Let’s not lower that number by making bad pitches, being out of touch or generally not putting ourselves in their shoes.

Above all, be kind and empathetic. These are strange times, and even in PR, we have to lean on each other more than ever.

 

 


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