Pitching reporters isn’t like it used to be. Too many reporters today are overworked and overwhelmed. If they are newspaper reporters, there’s a good chance they not only have to write for the print product, but also for a digital product. Some also must provide content for a video to go along with their print and digital story. And don’t even get them started on the fact that they must provide content for social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Periscope – the list seems endless.
There was a time when reporters might indulge a public relations practitioner and join him or her for a cup of coffee, lunch, or even sit-down with a client just for a meet-and-greet. However, more often than not today, most simply don’t have the time. However, there are some ways to better the odds of getting your client’s story told.
Be succinct, relatable: If you’re going to use the old tried-and-true method, make sure you have an eye-catching headline. The last thing you want a reporter to do is click “delete” before they even open it. Avoid industry jargon in your headline, instead find a way to make it relatable. Make it short, don’t try to cram the entire story into the headline.
Be relevant: Reporters change beats almost as often as Katy Perry changes hair color. That’s why it’s important to make sure that when you pitch a reporter they are on a beat that is relevant to the story you are pitching. One day they may be covering schools, the next they may be covering politics.
Be timely: Not every story can be breaking news, but if you keep on top of what is happening in the news, you may be able to find a hot topic on which to hitch your story. For example, a story comes out about how interest rates will be going up, you might want to offer up your real estate expert to talk about how that might impact the housing market.
Be reasonable: Never demand that a reporter write a story about your client, let them decide whether it’s worth the ink. I once had a PR person tell me (when I was a journalist) that if I didn’t do the story he/she was pitching they would never give me news again. Seriously? I hope their client didn’t know about their tactics or they likely would have been fired. Respect their right to say yes or no and thank them for their time.
Be patient: If you don’t get through to the reporter or hear back from them, don’t keep pestering them. It’s certainly OK to check back once because sometimes email does end up in a spam folder or is forgotten in an inbox. This happened to me recently and when I checked back a week later the host of a radio show I was pitching said he never got it, but thanked me and we ended up booking my client on his show. Just don’t become a PR stalker.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has two daughters, two golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.