Peanut butter and jelly, duck hunting, and of course, Ping Pong are a few of my favorites, but today I want to talk about baseball and the Associated Press.
In my long career, I’ve been able to accrue some great friendships. Financial reporters, investigative journalists, bloggers and national TV correspondents to name a few, but some of my favorite contacts can be found within the Associated Press. However, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, it wasn’t until I was working for a high-tech PR agency in Detroit that I realized how invaluable this media organization was to not only our society, but also to clients’ PR programs.
While in the home of the Tigers (Detroit for our non-MLB fans), I was spearheading the development of a media and analyst tour for an established technology company regarding a new eCommerce Web platform they were about to debut. After hours of researching, I finished drafting an extensive media list, which came to more than 50 reporters, 7 different cities, and 168 hours. Proudly, I submitted it to my supervisor.
My supervisor asked, “David, does it made sense to talk to all these reporters?” I paused.
My supervisor went onto ask me several more engaging questions:
- “Have I considered the amount of time my client would have to invest for the tour?”
- “How much of their budget would I be spending?”
- “How much time would my team and I have to invest in the tour?”
- “How much coverage and brand awareness was I going to secure?”
Her questions were more rhetorical than anything, but it was true. My planned 7-day media tour would not only consume a large amount of time, but also budget. My manager was asking if there was another way to accomplish the same media penetration without spending all the time and money I was proposing in my plan.
The answer: An exclusive with the Associated Press, aka “the home run.” She was right. There was no need to use the whole lineup when it was the 7th inning and no outs, just hit it hard and see where it goes. With this in mind, I skipped the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and headed straight for the Associated Press. Crack, homerun.
While the Associated Press is a great media outlet to drive maximum news and publicity around a brand or product, it is still no cake walk. The AP approval and vetting processes for just one interview would test the Dalai Lama’s patience. Moreover, always jammed for time, AP reporters never guarantee anything. They may do the interview with a client, but because they have no obligation to write a story about it they may never even use it. They can reschedule interviews, ask for confidential sources, and a myriad of other things that can add time and headache to the production of a story. In terms of my analogy: you have no idea which type of pitch will be thrown, if it will be a ball or strike, where it will be aimed (remember being beaked at bat is a potential reality), and worst for some, if you’ll strike out.
However, it’s these same traits that have made the AP such a trusted and syndicated source around the world. Its clear and effective writing, well-researched and unbiased articles, make it an invaluable dissemination tool in the 21st century and is exactly why it’s considered the 100-mph fastball in the media relations industry. You can swing and miss, or you can dig-in, hold tight and rip it out of the park.
Freestyle has been fortunate to secure several clients into AP stories, the most recent was the week of September 20 for our client in an industry story focusing on preventing Class-A drivers from using mobile devices.