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The internet has changed public relations, just as it’s changed just about every other industry, but what has not changed is what journalists are looking for. They want a story, a narrative, something compelling that is going to grab the attention of their readers or viewers or listeners. A traditional public relations campaign includes the legacy media, but it also includes online publications and bloggers. Whereas you don’t approach a blogger in the same way you would the editor of a newspaper, your presentation still needs to include the same basic compelling elements. You still need a story and a compelling narrative. Yes connecting and conversing are important in the blogosphere, but don’t think those make up for the lack of a good story.

And while we’re on the topic, do not confuse social media outreach with a public relations campaign. Do they overlap? Yes. Are they both important? Definitely. But, by launching a social media campaign are you simultaneously launching a PR campaign? Not by a long shot. They are both forms of marketing and they can (and actually should) overlap, but they are not the same animal.

I was speaking to a client the other day. I knew he had interviewed quite a few PR firms before he signed with us and I asked him what steered him in our direction. One of the points that stood out was that he said most of the other firms focused their concentration almost solely on online marketing. He was looking for the validation and credibility that comes from being featured on TV, radio as well as in magazines and newspapers, which we focus on. He understood that social media was an important element of an overall approach, but thought that too many of PR professionals he spoke with did not understand the importance of, or how to effectively launch, a traditional public relations campaign.

Understand the intricacies of a PR campaign before you launch. Whether you’re approaching a blogger a newspaper editor or a TV producer, always keep in mind that without a story that has a definite arc and strong angle, you’re in trouble.

First and foremost, remember to meet the media’s needs

Don’t pitch ideas, pitch stories.

Journalists aren’t looking for ideas, they’re looking for compelling stories that talk to their readers, viewers or listeners.

If you don’t have a story, don’t pitch.

And, before you start, know who you’re pitching.

Read. Watch. Listen.

Know what the writer, editor or producer you’re pitching generally covers. Know his or her tone and what interests them. Refer to a previous piece of theirs. Let them know you care enough to know who they are and what they write.

As mentioned earlier, a social media outreach and a PR outreach will at some point meld, and pushing a print or news story out via social media can greatly magnify its reach and overall impact. But the two are not synonymous and it’s important to understand how each outreach is defined, how they are similar and (even more important) how they are different.

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