Dating comes with a profusion of rules and “tried and true” methods for landing the perfect match. Ironically, dating rules transfer really well as a PR professional.
- Consider this scenario – You are at a bar with someone you have just met. You are into them and desperately trying to pique his/her interest. The end goal of the night is to move the relationship forward and secure the next date.
- Now onto scenario two – You’re a PR or content marketing professional pitching a story to a high-level journalist. You want the journalist to review the piece an this translates to getting press or byline article placements.
Both scenarios require a calculated approach, suave communication, and on-point messaging. One wrong move and you could ruin everything. As a PR or content marketing professional, you need to figure out how to make journalists like you and want to work with you. Flip to dating – you want your date to like you and want to be with you. Though the outcomes are very different the approach is similar. Let’s explore:
Locking In Your “Target”
Online Communities: In the dating world there are profusion of websites like JDate.com, Match.com, eHarmony.com, ChristianMingle.com, and DemocraticSingles.net; basically every creed, ethnicity, color, political stance, and culture have their unique online dating communities. This mimics our current societal connections of micro-communities. When once micro-communities were co-ops and communes, they now have evolved into groups of similar-minded individuals gathered to share resources and activities (often found through online communities).
As we prospect for leads we can find similar communities that aggregates potential relationships with journalists, editors, community managers, and website admins. Much like dating sites, content marketing communities like MuckRack, BlogDash, eCairn and GroupHigh help you find people of interest all in one location.
Google Stalk: Thank God for modern stalking “resources” like Google. In fact, the Guardian reported that 43 percent of people Google their date before they meet. Although you may never admit to it, most people conduct a quick Internet or Facebook search to get a basic background of a potential suitor. On the flip side, researching or “Googling” a journalist or editor prior to outreach allows you to review their latest articles, get a flavor of their beat, and what type of content they run. In both scenarios, it’s advantageous to read up on your potential target – as you will be better prepared for the right questions to ask and the approach to take.
Use Your Network: If you have a good reputation as a quality guest author or helpful PR source, you’re more likely to have pitching success. The same is true for dating; the most successful dates are friends playing cupid with other friends. In each scenario, you are teed up for success because you have a track record on one another, which facilitates an immediate level of trust.
The Best Pickup Line: “Can I have your phone number? I seem to have lost mine…” or “Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk past again?” These are two cheesy, yet commonly used pick-up lines that are almost 100 percent ineffective. The most sure-fire pickup line is a simple introduction: “Hi, my name is [insert your name].” This straightforward approach is honest and clear – two key characteristics of any respectable and trustworthy person.
The same intro can go a long way for PR and content marketing outreach specialists. No matter how clever or witty an opening line, the result will almost always be a reporter skimming through your long-winded and glitzy introduction. Introduce yourself professionally, let them know who you are and your intention for contacting them, and you’ll get things off on the right foot.
Feed the Relationship
Be Simple And Keep Them Wanting More: Just as on a first date, you don’t want to divulge everything you have to offer when you’re pitching. Understand that journalists prefer to-the-point communication, so be direct and avoid too much fluff (i.e. flattery, overzealous use of adjectives). Just as you would write a press release or blog post in an “inverted pyramid” structure, start with relevant information right up front with any pitch or communication.
Tailor Your Conversation: When you are on a first or second date, you probably have done your due diligence to research your date’s interests [see Google stalking section]. Therefore you cater your conversation towards the subject you know your date has an interest in. The same theory applies to a PR/content marketing professional and journalist relationships. Tailor your pitch to the journalist and their readers. Don’t make the conversation about you, make it about what you can do for their “peeps” (subscribers, readers, visitors, etc.). Know their beat and understand the benefit that you can provide them…and then nail it.
Exude Confidence: Reporters and dates can always tell when you’re nervous. If you’re nervous, you might lose their interest. Confidence plays a key part in attraction and interest. The way you view yourself has a huge impact on how others perceive you. Even though one relationship is romantic (date) and one is not (pitch), the element of attraction and peaking interest still plays into the mix. Net learn- confidence is key.
Don’t Over Communicate:You sent a pitch to a key news editor announcing a breaking story on Monday morning at 10 a.m. You are anxiously awaiting a response, and are texting, emailing, and calling on the hour every hour. Too much too soon?
Both with PR outreach and dating, you want to have a healthy flow of conversation and follow up. Use the two to three day follow up rule. Don’t seem desperate or needy. These two things never bode well in any situation – in dating or the workplace. Just like dating, you need to create genuine interest in the exchange.
Locking in the Second Date: If you want to build the relationship, follow up is key. In PR/content marketing, if you meet a journalist face to face, close the circle on your connection by following up. Recap your conversation and forward your contact information if they don’t have it. Make it apparent that you valued meeting them, and keep that communication open for future collaboration.
Hate the Player, not the Game: Journalists and dates like exclusivity. You might think by spreading your seed you are diversifying your options, but playing the field doesn’t foster meaningful relationships. Focus on quality over quantity and that’s what you’ll get (via Journalistics).