Last week, OGR’s Blog explored ways to improve a funeral home’s media coverage. This week, we’re discussing what funeral homes should avoid doing when building relationships with local media.
Avoid the following when building relationships with the media:
1. Avoid cluttering others’ inboxes. Once you’ve sent your pitch, give it a few days to settle. Don’t send email after email or make phone call after phone call asking about it. If a journalist is interested in your story, they will tell you or they will request additional information.
2. Avoid thinking “one size fights all”. “One size fits all” isn’t a good media pitch strategy. Keep your pitches relevant with special attention to recent coverage, region, and audience. Just like a good funeral, a good media pitch is best when it’s personalized.
3. Avoid thinking your information is the most important. Don’t think that what you have to say is the most important thing in the world. People shouldn’t drop what they’re doing to pay attention to your story. In most cases, media have many competing interests. It’s a hectic business with many distractions. You have to figure out how to rise to the top.
4. Avoid making cookie-cutter pitches. In fact, cookie-cutter pitches annoy people. If you send the same pitch three times in a row and it strikes out every time, it’s time to change your pitch. Find a new angle for your story. Even if the pitch succeeds, change it when shifting to a different outlet, audience, or campaign. Your pitches must be tailored to the environment where it will be placed.
5. Avoid becoming dejected. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right person who “gets” your message. If it doesn’t happen on the first phone call or first email, don’t throw up your hands in frustration. Keep doing your homework, and stay positive. Getting agitated won’t help. Be persistently pleasant about reaching your goal.
6. Avoid burning bridges. If you are unhappy with coverage, deal with it constructively and think long-term. Hope for a better story down the road. If there is an error, ask them to correct it. Any respectable reporter or writer will publish a correction.
7. Avoid thinking everything deserves media coverage. If you’re trying to develop an ongoing relationship, don’t pitch a story every week. But do stay in touch. It might mean sending a reporter an update on your funeral home even if you’re not looking for a story. In addition, compliment a reporter on a recent story or news segment you enjoyed.
8. Avoid forgetting to deliver on your promise. Your main aim is for the media to be receptive to your pitches as well as coming to you for comments about funeral topics, so be sure you deliver on your promises. If they know you’re a good source that will deliver, they will be receptive to your future communications as well as on the top of their mind when doing a story on deadline and quickly need an expert’s perspective on funeral service.
By Joe Weigel
Mr. Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession, that delivers expertise and results across three interrelated marketing disciplines: strategy, branding and communications. Visit his website at http://www.weigelstrategicmarketing.webs.com. He also can be reached at 317-608-8914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 2 of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of OGR’s Independent Magazine.