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Insight February 6, 2017

3 Tips for Working with the Media

 

By Anna Condon, Junior Copywriter

Between the 24-hour news cycles and the growing emphasis on the importance of public relations, journalists are inundated with story ideas, and many field hundreds of emails daily. With all that noise, it’s not surprising that most PR pitches get lost in the shuffle.

If you want to avoid ending up on a journalist’s SPAM list, you’ll need to make sure you provide relevant, engaging content that answers the all-important question, “Why should my readers care?” Follow these three key steps when crafting your pitch to help ensure the story adds value, and eventually makes it to print: 

  1. Get to know the publication. It should go without saying that you need to read your target outlet before pitching a story. A little upfront research helps you get a sense of how reporters for that publication position their pieces, as well as the types of stories that make it to print. When you understand the publication and its audience, it’s easier to explain why this story matters to its readers. Even better, once you start reading past stories, you may find a way to tie in your pitch to work they’ve done in the past — extending the subject matter further.
  2. Do some light social media stalking. In addition to researching the outlet you’re pitching, it can be helpful to do some recon on the journalists who cover your industry. Read their stories, but also read the articles they’re reading. Follow them on social media and click through to any content they comment on, like, or share. You’ll glean valuable information about the trends, topics, and issues that are important to them, as well as insight into their personality — which in turn makes it easier to tailor your pitch to pique their interest.
  3. Remember your manners. As tempting as it may be to impose a strong-armed pitch, you’ll be more successful respecting the reporter’s right to decide why your story is (or isn’t) right for their audience. Craft a direct email about what you’re pitching, including as many meaningful reasons as possible about why it’s important for their readers, and wait.

Give the reporter a day or so to respond and follow-up by phone. You’ll want to be direct and to-the-point about why you’re calling. If they accept your pitch, you can talk about next steps. If they decline your story, it’s fine to ask why not. Would it be better for another writer or with another approach? After your pitch, you can visit and catch up — that way they’ll know your interest is genuine and not an effort to win favor.