What OkCupid and Other Dating Sites Can Teach You About Media Relations

Fact: There are 54.3 million single people in the U.S. Fact: 41.3 million people in the U.S. have tried online dating

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Are you surprised by these stats? I was. Even living in Silicon Valley – where online dating is pretty much the norm – I was still amazed to see that 76 percent of single people have tried it. Assuming of course that not too many "taken" people are trying their luck online.

A recent conversation with a friend currently navigating the online dating seas got me thinking. He was talking about his “approach” to communication on OkCupid and my PR mind couldn’t help but drift to how much of a parallel there is between the approach one takes to online dating and the approach for media relations.

So I decided what better topic for a blog post, right?

Know Your Goal

First and foremost, a person should know what they are hoping to accomplish in terms of a relationship. Are you just looking for casual dating or are you ready to settle down? The answer to this may change which online dating site you should select. Tinder has a notorious reputation for being casual. Match.com is known for more serious relationships – just take a look at this Reddit thread.

How does this relate back to media relations? Well, the first thing you need to consider is what media goal you are trying to accomplish for your client. If they are eager to get in front of C-level folks, then business press is where you should go. If they are keener to reach the line of business group then you should pitch the story to HR, sales, finance and other specific vertical publications.

Selecting the Right Target

The fun has only just begun. Once you’ve identified the site that best suits your needs, it’s time to go fishing. You can scroll for days and days trying to find which matches tickle your fancy. You’re looking for someone who likes yoga, hiking and wine tasting. Honestly, that shouldn’t be too hard to find in the Bay Area, but maybe you also want someone that has a specific quirk or a creative “About Me.”

As is the case when selecting the characteristics that make up your perfect mate, selecting the right media person to start a conversation with begins with selecting the right publication. Then comes the harder task of narrowing it down and finding which writer is most relevant to the story you are pitching. Media often complain to PR people about receiving pitches that have nothing to do with their beat. So make sure to do your research and pick the reporter who would actually cover the story!

Grab Their Attention

Short and punchy? Long and heartfelt? What’s the best way to grab your new online interest’s attention? Be creative!

Same rules apply with media, although I’m pretty sure a reporter at Bloomberg would not appreciate a long, heartfelt pitch. This goes back to doing your research. Use what you do know about the reporter or fellow online dater to craft a personal note that makes them feel special. A generic email you can mass-send to potential matches rarely works as well as a tailored, specific pitch for each individual.

The Follow Up

Now this one threw me for a loop. My guy friend said that sometimes a girl will respond to him once and then go silent. “What the heck?” I said, at first.

But then I thought, “Wait…I know exactly what he’s talking about.” Ever get a response to your pitch saying they’re interested in speaking to your client, but then when you follow up with availability they no longer respond? I’m never really sure about what happens here but I try to get creative in my follow up notes. No, I’m not one of those PR people that simply keep sending emails saying “just following up on my previous note.” Try relating back to something they just wrote and get the conversation going that way.

In both online dating and media follow up, maybe check back in once or twice, but if you don’t hear anything the message should be loud and clear: MOVE ON.

The Pay Off

Bam! You’ve started a conversation with the lucky dater and secured the coveted in-person meeting. The hard work is mostly over.

The same goes for finally securing that phone or in-person briefing with a reporter. You are on the line, listening to your client give the company elevator pitch, and you’re just thanking your lucky stars that both joined the conference line on time.

Now if you especially lucky, the meeting leads to a follow-up date (also known as an amazing article)…but don’t bank on it. Nothing’s a 100 percent when it comes to dating or the media.

Show Interest

Even though you got the pay off, your work isn’t done. It’s important to now nurture the relationship. With online dating, that is if you liked the person, maintain that communication and set up another date.

With media, keep the lines of communication open. Shoot them notes every now and again commenting on an article they just wrote and offering your perspective or flagging a piece of news you think they would be interested in writing about. The best relationships media have with PR folks are beneficial for both parties; the same can be said for partner relationships.

Well, you get the gist. If you need to work on your media relations, head on over to an online dating site and put your skills to the test.