In her post earlier this month about new (academic) year’s resolutions, Erin Hennessy inspired me—as she often does—to come up with a few of my own. So, as the 2015-16 fall semester gets underway, here are a few things I plan to do to ensure this year is even more successful than the last.
- Send fewer pitches. This may seem counterintuitive, particularly since my goal is to increase coverage. But simply pitching more stories isn’t necessarily the means to that end. Firing off story ideas that haven’t been thoroughly strategized just to be able to cross something off a to-do list is an inefficient use of time and can jeopardize credibility with reporters. So, while it’s tempting to move things quickly along my desk, I have found that taking more time to identify truly good stories, brainstorm all potential angles and opportunities, articulate them well in carefully-crafted emails, and target the right reporters is the best way to improve quality of media hits and strengthen relationships. At a logistical level, this approach means spending less time following up, tweaking and resending pitches to multiple reporters, but more time up front ensuring stories and contacts are solid. It means things don’t get crossed off the to-do list quite as quickly, but the results (when they do come) are so much more satisfying for everyone—myself, journalists, and clients.
- Write more concisely. Some of my most well-received pitches have been no longer than three sentences long. Not all of them were easy to write. In fact, many of them took a long time, with several rounds of cuts and edits. But, in the end I had something that reporters were able to digest quickly, without having to sort through several paragraphs to determine the “so what?” factor. Writing longer pitches is a habit that’s easy to fall back into, especially during very busy times in the semester, but the reality is that the effort to cut back word count pays big dividends. I know it works and will hold myself to it more consistently.
- Share more praise. I work with amazingly talented people—from my team at TVP Communications, to colleagues on campuses, to faculty experts and members of the media. And while I think I do a fairly good job of following up with reporters and interview subjects after stories are published or broadcast to thank everyone for a job well done, I know I could do more when I haven’t been directly involved in facilitating a story. I read stories and emails several times a day that impress me for one reason or another, and this year I’m going to let people know more often.
- Keep up with new social media. (Siiigghhh.) This should really be number one, because it’s the thing I need to put the most effort into. News is made on social media. So, if I’m not up to date on the latest, breaking and trending stories, I’m not doing my job. I won’t lie. It’s not always intuitive for me. I’ve been struggling with Snapchat for months (not only how it works, but also what really is the point—or better yet, what’s its potential?). But media are utilizing it, as well as other new platforms, so it’s time to stop dabbling and really get it figured out. (Thanks again to Erin for this primer!) And while I’m at it, I need to see what’s coming down the pike. On my reading list, this Forbes article, “7 Social Media Platforms that Could Explode Before 2016.”
What did Erin and I miss? Share your plans for the new academic year in the comments section or on Twitter. Here’s where to find us: @tvpcomms, @tvparrot, @ErinAHennessy, @kristinemaloney, @kgunnels, and @AliLincolnTVP.