Most online media prefer to be contacted solely via e-mail. Include your other contact information for their convenience, but it’s best to limit your communications to e-mail unless breaking news is involved.
Making a pitch via e-mail: Keep your e-mail pitch concise and to the point, and use a descriptive subject header. Always include the text of your statement or release in your e-mail, as many contacts will not open e-mail attachments due to concerns about spreading computer viruses. Let contacts know if you have visuals available, but it is best to let them respond if they can use photos or logos rather than clogging their e-mail with materials they may not use.
Following up via e-mail: Follow up via e-mail within a reasonable time, but don’t forget to check the sites or publications beforehand to see whether your information has been used. Some editors will use information without responding. If the information has not been used, ask for feedback so you can learn what materials will be a better fit.
Media Tip: Traditional Media Is Online
Many local newspapers and television and radio stations are now online. Often, these outlets run "online only" features that do not appear in their regular print editions or broadcasts.
Tips for gaining online coverage:
- Do research: Spend some time researching appropriate online publications and Web sites. Directories like Yahoo! and search engines like Google are both good resources. Visit the sites and subscribe to e-mail publications as available in order to familiarize yourself with the type of materials and coverage they offer.
- Develop a list: Develop a list with whatever contact and content information you can obtain. If you are not certain about contacts, many sites have a "contact us" feature that offers an e-mail address. It is acceptable to inquire about the editor’s interest in your subject area if it’s not clear whether the site is an appropriate outlet. This is also a good opportunity to begin to develop rapport with these online contacts.
- Contribute articles: Remember that some sites or publications will not post a release, but they may be amenable to running a bylined article or op-ed piece. If so, this can be terrific exposure for your information. Look for seasonal opportunities to provide timely materials.
- Use link opportunities: When contacting sites to request coverage, ask them to provide a link to your Web site, if appropriate. Many online publications and Web sites will include a live link in the text of an article, but some also have special areas devoted to links to useful sites. Some sites will also post a logo, so be sure to offer to provide one. Once established, such links can remain in place for extended periods of time.
- Leverage your partnerships: If your coalition members, allies and partners have their own Web sites, request a link to your site (or PT²) from theirs. The more sites you have linking to yours, the easier it will be for your target audiences to find your coalition.
- Learn which sites are already linking to yours: By using the advanced search features on major search engines like Google, Alta Vista and Lycos, you can find out which sites are already linking to yours. These sites may represent good opportunities for media relations activities, since they already appear to have an interest in the information your site offers. Work to establish relationships with the Webmasters of these sites and send them updates and information on a regular basis.