Maddy Stichbury, Account Executive Financial Services
It’s been a whirlwind. Becoming an account executive with no prior media experience has meant learning on the job – and quickly! So here are the five most important things to learn about the media before coming in cold turkey.
Roxhill is just the beginning
Roxhill aka the Bible of PRs. Sure, it can give you the email and often phone number of any journalist you are trying to track down, but media relations extend way past this database. Just last week I attended my first ever ‘journo coffee’, an interesting encounter that felt like a mix between a Hinge date and a job interview.
However, it has directly resulted in three pieces of top tier coverage and a podcast appearance. Once you actually meet a journalist, they are much more likely to open your email when they see your name in their inbox. Building personal relationships with journalists can be key to securing coverage – especially in those top tiers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Roxhill is unfortunately not the most exhaustive list of publications – especially when your clients operate in more nuanced sectors. For example, there are many popular crypto blogs that do not find their way onto Roxhill – despite often being leading publications in their field. Google is your friend when expanding a press list and Roxhill has run out of options.
Sing to the journalist’s beat
If you haven’t had at least one short tempered journalist sighing down the phone, you don’t work in PR. However, commonly it’s because you’ve phoned the UK editor asking if they’re interested in a fintech story in Africa.
Working in fintech PR there are multiple journalists with vague job titles, so it’s important to do research; check journalists’ recent stories, get journalists on the phone to ask them on what they are currently writing and make sure to update press lists anytime a journalist changes their beat.
Then personalise pitches to each journalist to increase engagement. It might seem time consuming but knowing exactly what journalists’ want to write on is a top tip to securing coverage.
Knowing your sector will help you to secure coverage
One of the reasons that clients hire us is because we are subject matter experts. This means that you can never know too much or stop learning. Yesterday it was embedded finance, today it is the metaverse, tomorrow is who-knows-what.
Understanding the subject matter is necessary to be able to identify relevant breaking news stories and drive coverage results effectively and independently.
Newsjacking, letters to editors and reactive commentary are all good tactics to secure coverage, especially in top tiers, but it needs to be done within 24 hours of the story being published. None of that can happen unless you really do have your finger on the pulse.
Plan, prepare and then be flexible when it all goes wrong
Writing yourself a to-do list every day and carving out time to focus on various tasks is the best way to stay on top of your workload. Planning your time to the (almost) hour may help you stay afloat. However, flexibility is equally as important. In my short life as a PR, I have pitched two releases under embargo that were delayed multiple times. This is a sure-fire way to ruin your meticulously planned week, not to mention ensuring your email is added to the spam folder by journalists.
Therefore, flexibility is essential. As is having no shame when you need to call the journalist for a fourth time that day to update on yet another embargo change.
Subject lines are the key to unlocking journalist’s attention
Sparking enough interest to open an email in a limited number of characters? Easy! I, an avid tweeter, first believed – how wrong I was. Subject lines are an art form and testing the waters with multiple variations and tracking which have the most success is key.
Media is always evolving and it’s important to never stop learning. I’m excited for the lessons my next three months will teach me.