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How do I develop contacts with national media outlets?

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I have been a PR coordinator focusing on local media outreach for about a year now. I was recently promoted to PR director and re-located to Los Angeles for the national division of our company. Though I am very excited about the new challenge and have great communication skills, I am already experiencing some difficulty in getting some of the larger and more reputable publications to respond to me. What is the best way to build national media relationships when you have not met with the reporter or outlet face-to-face? How did the greats of the PR industry initially establish their contacts? Should I make general introductions before I pitch different story angles and people, or should I jump in feet first? I feel I have a good understanding of what is media-worthy and what is not, but what am I missing? Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Winning attention from top press may take a bit of time and some finesse. The first step is to carefully tailor your pitch to the needs of each publication and journalist. Nothing is more irritating to a journalist than getting off-topic pitches, even when they are perfectly newsworthy in all other respects. For example, I write magazine and online columns and books about small business success through great marketing. So when I get press releases about new inventions or finance they're useless to me. They're simply off target. So get to know the work of the journalists you pitch before you send anything at all, then create stories you know they'll find of interest to their particular readers.

Next, create press releases or articles with photos that can be picked up and modified without too much work. Some publications are quite understaffed and it helps if they can use your materials virtually as is, or at least find most of their questions answered by what you send. Your press release is just a knock at the door so to speak. Follow it with a phone call. Then follow the call with your complete kit. It may take a while to get picked up but stick with it.

Best of luck!

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