If you’re pitching a story that you wouldn’t read, don’t bother pitching it. That was the advice from a panel of reporters speaking to an audience of PR practitioners.
The panelists shared their tips for pitching them. Their advice was spot on, and, at times discouraging. Today, there are fewer reporters so it’s more challenging as PR practitioners to get our stories covered. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Here are five tips to help you.
1. Perfect the pitch.Reporters are busy, too. “If I can’t read your pitch and understand it in 60 seconds, I’m deleting it,” said Dena Potter, news editor with The Associated Press in Richmond, Va.
2. Don’t bury the news. Potter has a related piece of advice. “Don’t bury the news under a bunch of prose just to show me how well you can write.”
3. Know what’s going on. In other words, don’t pitch your feature story in the middle of a hurricane or election night coverage.
4. Use Email. Greg Gilligan, business editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, advocated for a strong subject line that “gets to the point.” He also said to paste the release or pitch in the body of the email. If he’s reading a release on his mobile, it takes too long to download and he’s likely to give up.
5. Identify contacts and spokespersons. Lara Malbon McDuffie, assignment manager of WWBT-NBC12 in Richmond, cautioned having a backup spokesperson if the primary spokesperson is unavailable. She also likes easy-to-find contacts on the website and – even better – after hour phone numbers.
What successes have you had in pitching the media?