Generating interest in the Spanish media is an arduous task nowadays. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the rules of the game and, far from returning to the “old normal”, more than two years later, there are habits that are here to stay. Newsrooms have suffered staff cuts, many journalists continue working from home, paid media have grown considerably, in person events are coming back… Life goes on and public relations must jump on the bandwagon of this new reality.
To understand how the media work in Spain, we must take into account a series of cultural peculiarities that make them special. There is a generalized trend in the Spanish press towards branded content, with an increasing number of outlets feeding on paid content. This is justifiable given the growing dependence on online return, which in the last 20 years has become the main and almost only source of income for many media, due to the sharp decline of the print publications. Specifically, the latest General Media Study (EGM) has certified that the fall in print readership is an unstoppable trend. In total, 5,621,000 people read daily printed newspapers in Spain, which means that the print newspapers have lost 8.9 million readers on average per day in the last decade.
Even so, it is worth mentioning that, despite this discouraging outlook for the press, the influence of print is still very important in our country. Clients looking for communication strategies continue to value very positively appearing in a printed newspaper, as it is still perceived as a sign of prestige and is considered more exclusive than online publications. Likewise, the specialized press continues to have an important weight at the print level. Vertical media continue to attract a large number of print-loving readers, as many decision-makers in these fields continue to place a great deal of trust in the traditional trade press.
How to coexist working from home
From this point, it is also necessary to consider another key aspect such as telecommuting. With the pandemic, many publications were forced to move from their newsrooms to their living rooms, and in many cases this move has become permanent. An important part of the work of a communications agency is the so-called media “follow-up”, which consists of contacting journalists, either by email, telephone or WhatsApp, to communicate some news related to the client with whom they are working, either sending a press release, offering an interview opportunity, inviting them to an event, consulting their editorial calendar…
Until 2019, this follow-up used to start with an email to the journalist, often followed by a confirmation phone call. However, nowadays, calling the newsrooms is complicated because they often do not put you through to the journalists and, if they do put you through, they do not always answer. In addition, when it comes to requesting contacts from newsroom secretaries, the procedures vary from one media to another. Some are taking data protection very seriously and do not provide personal emails. This situation makes it very difficult to locate the contact of the journalist covering the topic we want to talk to you about.
How to prepare the ideal pitch?
We define pitch as the text that is sent to the journalist as “bait” to generate his or her interest in the subject that is presented. In the case of a press release or an article, the pitch summarizes the main topics to be discussed in the text, while for interviews, this paragraph explains who the spokesperson is and proposes the main topics he/she could talk about.
Finding the right angle for the pitch and do some research beforehand is essential and necessary. It is advisable to check whether the media has published content on the topic we want to raise and with what approach. In addition, check the latest articles of the journalist we are going to address, to verify that he/she has not recently talked about the topic we want to pitch, since, in that case, it is quite likely that he/she will reject it.
It is also important to see how they structure and focus the contents, to try to approach with our pitch the type of ideas and style they are looking for. It is also crucial to avoid marketing slogans. Journalists quickly identify when we are trying to “sell” something, so it is important to focus on offering them quality content and providing value for their media. This type of measures is what differentiates a quality communications agency.
From the agencies, we must always empathize and put ourselves in the journalist’s shoes. They receive hundreds of emails a day and, on many occasions, with the daily maelstrom, it is difficult for them to discern what is really interesting. For this reason, we must do a previous work and offer them the information already digested and ready to prepare a content.
The power of exclusivity
A very interesting tactic that generally works well is to offer exclusive content. After all, the media are competing on the same stage: Google. Publishing unique content helps them to rank better in the different search engines, since copying content is penalized at SEO level. Therefore, offering exclusive texts helps them to gain positions and, at the same time it gives them prestige, since they have been the ones chosen to communicate that news and not the competition.
For this reason, whenever we have a really relevant content, we recommend offering it exclusively to the main media of interest to the client to ensure their attention. Although not all clients understand this, one quality impact is worth much more than ten of lesser value. Another formula is to offer the information ‘under embargo’ to a single media outlet, so that they have the content before the rest of the publications and can prepare a special piece, even if the information is sent to the rest of the contacts in the database once the embargo is over. In the end, less and less media copy and paste the press release sent by the brand, but there is a tendency to prepare unique pieces that take advantage of the content offered by the companies.
Regarding the time and date of sending, there is no magic formula. It depends on many factors such as the editorial calendars of the media, the events of the week, current events… But in general, we would recommend sending content from Tuesday to Thursday and in the morning. Mondays tend to be editorial meeting days and journalists have less time to consult their inbox, while Fridays are closing days, so communicators are more focused on finishing the issues they have pending than on thinking about new ones.
And for you, what are your tricks for success with journalists?