Ever wondered what editors really want from the PRs they work with? We spoke to some of the best in the business to find out how to stand out from the pack, build relationships and get that coveted coverage. We spoke with Yeong Sassall, Head of Brand at Vogue Living, to find out more.
F: How should brands be reaching out (email, phone, social media DMs)?
YS: Email, then a follow up email a few days later if it’s urgent or there’s a time component.
Following up the next day, especially if there’s no real urgency, can be too much. I generally only welcome phone calls (especially to mobiles) from PRs with whom I’ve built an existing relationship, and same with social media DMs. We do get cold called on social media a bit, but if you can move it to email quickly after that it’s much preferred. And please don’t call/text/DM on weekends or after-work hours expecting an answer!
F: What do you look for in an email subject line that makes you want to open it?
YS: Exclusive content, relevant news-y angles, experts available for commentary. Also, it helps to indicate that you know the publication you are pitching to. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from PRs who don’t realise that Vogue Living is an interiors title, not covering beauty, bridal or fashion.
F: What’s the one thing you wish brands / PRs would do to make your life easier?
YS: Attach the press release in a format where we can copy and paste relevant info when needed, and include a file sharing link. Sharing WeTransfers that expire after a few days can be frustrating for digital journalists who work really quickly and may not have time to wait for a reply or a new link. Also, don’t be vague! Please don’t send a one-line pitch that requires a lot of emailing back and forth to gain a better understanding of what the story angle is.
F: How important is it for brands to understand the constraints you are under – e.g. journalists being judged on the number of clicks their stories receive?
YS: VERY! A lot of PRs don’t seem to realise that answering emails isn’t our 24/7 job, it’s one of many daily tasks and competing priorities that digital journalists have to fit in. Aside from email, we write stories, picture research, upload stories, monitor traffic, manage/upload social media, report to internal managers, attend internal and external meetings and attend events. And yes, given that we see daily and real-time traffic reports, we do know what will/won’t resonate with our audience, so performance is paramount.
F: What are 3 things that must be included in a media release or pitch email?
YS: Facts! (dates, times, deadlines, background info), embargo dates (if there is one), file sharing link to images.