How to win at pitching and stay friendly with journalists: Top tips from the 2021 Earned Media Mastery virtual summit keynotes 

by | Aug 30, 2021 | Public Relations

This year’s Earned Media Mastery virtual summit was our biggest event yet. With 31 sessions led by 36 journalists, agency owners, PR pros, and media relations experts, thousands of registrants enjoyed 14 hours of exclusive content over three free days.

Headlining Agility PR Solutions’ summit were our three keynotes, Michael Smart, renowned PR coach to the big names in business; Isabel Lara, Chief Communications Officer at NPR; and Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing and PR’s Queen of Measurement. From thinking outside the box when pitching to building trust with journalists to measuring more than metrics, our three keynotes covered some heavy-hitting topics. If you missed the free part of the event, we snagged some of their most potent takeaways for you below:

Michael Smart, Superior Media Pitching Strategies for the New Normal

  • Personalized pitching pays off. Every successful pitching example Michael provided in his keynote was personalized and tailored to meet the specific wants and needs of the journalist. The professionals behind the pitches had done their research and made sure when reaching out to do as much work as possible for the journalist beforehand by providing the right assets and information.
  • Go beyond the usual suspects. Getting coverage in the biggest outlets is a nice ego boost, but when coverage is about vanity and not business objectives, earned media is nowhere near as effective. Michael recommends looking beyond the usual suspects and targeting the niche publications or networks that reach the right audience. They may not be as flashy as the big names, but they often provide better ROI.
  • Owned content isn’t taboo. Just like the rest of us, journalists care about the numbers. Journalists want to cover what their audiences want to know about. If the story performed well on the brand’s owned channels as a blog, announcement, or release, likely the story will perform well for the journalists too, which can be an incentive for them to pick it up.

Katie Paine, Reimagining PR Measurement in 2021: How to Measure What Matters

  • Measure what you honor. Instead of focusing on attention metrics like reach and clicks, Katie says to measure what your stakeholders find important. In today’s environment, that means measuring equity and diversity, social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and trust (among other things).
  • Your measurement report should tell a story. And the story isn’t about whether your PR agency or department is valuable or not. The report should focus on business objectives and what the organization hopes to achieve and how your PR activities have contributed to those objectives.  Tell people what they need to know even if it’s not what they want to hear. But after presenting the results, make sure you have solutions ready to go.
  • Use data constructively. Data is only as good as what you do with it. After analysis, your data should show you what you should start doing to improve—and what you should stop doing.

Isabel Lara, Meta Media Relations: Telling the Media’s Story

  • Stay curious and don’t get intimidated. For Isabel, the two qualities an individual needs to have to be successful in PR are curiosity and the ability to stay unintimidated. You must be curious about your clients and the journalists you are reaching out to on their behalf, and you cannot become intimidated by the questions journalists ask. When a reporter respects you, she says, they ask the tough questions.
  • Be accurate, always. It should be every PR person’s desire to become a trusted resource for journalists and that means being accurate. In today’s fast paced environment, it can be tempting to rush and provide information without taking the necessary precautions to fact check. But if a reporter says or writes something inaccurate, that is your mistake, and your oversight or slip up can irreversibly damage the relationship. Pause, find the facts, and then get back to your contact.

An All-Access Pass to the summit is available if you missed these and other valuable sessions during the free portion of the event.

Joy Knowles
Joy Knowles is the Content Marketing Manager at Agility PR Solutions. Joy has worked in an agency and been part of several internal communications teams during her career, helping to grow the companies’ client and customer bases through strategic communications, content planning and creation, social media management, and project and client management. Her education is in public relations.


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