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.
Anyone who has ever worked in public relations knows it’s a career with many peaks and valleys. One day you are getting a client the media interview of their dreams; the next day they are blaming you for everything that is wrong with their business (or lack thereof).
It’s the peaks that get us through the rough times, but sometimes getting to the top is almost as tough as climbing Mt. Everest. Obtaining that much-sought-after interview rarely comes in the form of one-call-does-it-all.
Case in point, I had been pitching a reporter for months, every time my client put out a press release I would send our latest and greatest news to him. If I didn’t get the silent treatment, I got a “thanks but no thanks” or “I’m too swamped, maybe next time.” I was always pleasant and thanked him for his time. I did not tell him why he needed to write the story, nor did I demand to speak with his editor. (Believe me, there are some PR people who will do this. When I was a journalist I was on the receiving end of these kinds of folks).
I paid attention to his social media posts, commented when appropriate, read his stories and got to know him. Then one day we had more news to report. I pitched an angle I thought would fit and … got the snub again! Then something miraculous happened (cue the harps). He was working on another story that my client fit into and he asked us for an interview.
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.