If you’re sending boring, generic pitches to every journalist you can find, how can you expect anyone to respond to you?
Dayna Calkins, senior publicist at Choice Media & Communications, stresses the importance of doing your research before sending your pitch.
In this interview, Dayna discusses how to build better relationships with the media, best practices for social pitching and why you should take initiative when solving problems.
How did you get your start in PR?
I started in PR by interning at a boutique PR firm called Noreen Heron & Associates (now Heron PR) in Chicago the summer going into my junior year. Once I graduated from college, I was hired at Kirvin Doak Communications in Las Vegas and had the opportunity to work with some of the largest entertainment brands in the world.
What is the biggest media relations mistake brands make?
Generic pitching. I think it’s really important to make your pitch specific and tailored to outlets/journalists. Do your research.
What are some of the ways brands can improve their relationships with the media?
Get to know journalists on a personal level as well as professional. I think it’s really important to actually be interested in them and not just what they can do for you at any given time.
Relationships are a two-way street. Find out commonalities the two of you share, and use that as a starting point. Take them to lunch and get to know them, obviously utilize your time to pitch as well but for the most part just having a friendly lunch or coffee can make all the difference.
Do you think it’s more important to build relationships with a few key media professionals or try and appeal to a large number? Why?
The more the merrier but as I said before, I think it’s really important to actually get to know them. Networking is a big part of PR, so I think you should network as much as you can but be respectful and engaging.
How has social media transformed media relations? Do you find that journalists are open to receiving pitches via social?
I think social media has transformed a lot of things but yes, in my experience, most of the journalists I’ve worked with are open to receiving pitches via Twitter but not other platforms.
With social pitching it’s really important to set boundaries and respect their privacy. Social pitching is short and concise; you only have 140 characters to get your point across.
What advice do you have for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Be a sponge, learn from your superiors and take it all in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions but listen and don’t ask the same question twice.
Also, problem solving is huge in our profession. Do you have the resources to figure this out yourself before seeking help? Then use those resources! I promise it will make people respect you so much more to just take initiative.
The best way to learn is to take risks and be bold in your decisions. If you mess up; it’s not the end of the world.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a doctor.
2. My guiltiest pleasure is…Netflix bingeing.
3. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d…bring a book.
4. My hobbies outside of work include…theater, reading, traveling, cooking, movies and my dog, Louie.
5. My favorite social media platform is…Instagram.
6. I laugh most at…corny jokes and sarcasm.