How To Pitch To Reporters

After attending a recent PRSA seminar featuring a panel of reporters and editors,  I realized something important.  When it comes to pitching to journalists, there are no set rules.  One prefers phone calls, another wants emails, and — dare I say it — a third admitted to reading a press release that was actually mailed to him!  There are no short cuts; you really have to get to know each individual reporter’s style and preferences.  To do this, read their publications and online content and familiarize yourself with what their subject matter expertise.  Reporters and editors will respect your pitch if you can show them you’ve done your homework.

Robert Deigh has great tips for pitching in his book, “How Come No One Knows About Us?”  He suggests that you visualize the completed story you want to be written.  What are the specific points you would like to see made?  Make sure these points make it into your pitch.News is relevant and timely.  Ask yourself how your story relates to new trends or recent news and then connect that angle to your pitch.Finally be patient but persistent.  Deigh says that you should call a reporter and make a quick and effective pitch.  If they’re interested, but on deadline, ask if you can send them some information and call back in few days to follow up. With this approach, you have provided the basic facts and opened the door to discuss your information, while demonstrating your professionalism by respecting the reporter’s time.

Wondering when to call?  Perhaps it’s better to learn when NOT to call.  Ask when your media contacts must turn in their stories, then call an hour or so after their deadline.  For print media, this is usually in the afternoon, and for our local weeklies, that tends to be on Tuesday, but they can continue working until late Tuesday.  For the weeklies and community newspapers, try and reach them any other day, unless it’s breaking news, then go ahead and make the call.

To build relationships with reporters who may cover your story, Deigh suggests pitching to freelance writers.  Freelance writers are an excellent resource because they rarely get pitched and are always looking for new angles and stories.  Another approach is to call the publication’s newsroom, and ask the person who answers who would be the best person to whom you should send your information.

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on June 29, 2009, in Public Relations Tips. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Turns out a lot of reporters don’t like to be pitched via phone:


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