Public Relations people have to follow certain rules when pitching. Journalists receive, on average, 50-100 press releases every week, so PR tactics need to stand out (in a good way). Whether your startup has a hot new feature or your company has some big news, you want reporters to cover the story.
Here are rules to follow that journalists will appreciate from A to Z.
Before You Reach Out
Always research the reporter before you reach out; journalists get really annoyed if you email something to them before knowing what they cover.
Beats are reporters’ topic areas that they write about; if they have a health care beat, don’t email about holiday gift ideas (that’s for the lifestyle beat).
Check to make sure your reporter still actively writes for the publication and they haven’t moved on to a different outlet.
Daily news roundups are a great way to always know what’s going on in your industry (and what reporters are covering what topics).
Email first so a reporter can decide if they want to cover your story at their own pace.
Focus your email on your core message; don’t include any extra fluff that distracts from your main point.
Generate interest by including numbers of users, growth projections, investment amounts, any fact-based numbers that can fill out a story.
Hook the reporter by including all contact information, press releases, and significant dates about your story.
If the reporter doesn’t email back within a week, it’s OK to send a follow up email to see if the first email got lost in the mix.
Just relax if your ideal reporter doesn’t email back; there are others that cover that beat.
Keep in mind that some reporters absolutely do not want to be called, so be sure to find out if they’re open to press calls first.
Learn to make your elevator pitch quickly – get to the point – reporters are really busy, so don’t talk on and on.
Mention key facts and media hooks first; if the reporter is interested, they will let you keep talking.
Never get discouraged if a reporter is short with you; remember they’re on deadlines, and you just interrupted them in the middle of their day.
Following up with Reporters
Oftentimes you will not get an answer at all from your reporter, so sending one more email is acceptable.
Put in one more key fact or hook (exclusive interview, etc.) in the follow up email to entice the reporter to want to cover your story.
Quick one-liner emails responding to your original email might remind the reporter about your story and get them to email you back.
Relevant news always gets covered first, so try to link your story to something happening in current events.
Pitching Reporters on Social Media
Social networks are a great way to get a quick pitch out to the reporter you want to cover your story.
Twitter especially works well, since most reporters actively use their handles and follow coverage.
Utilize social media as a way to gentle push your reporter towards your story, but do not bombard them will millions of tweets; they will block you.
Visit your reporter’s page to see if they respond to pitches on social networks to see if you have a shot at a response.
When the Reporter is Just Not That Into You
When you don’t hear back after two emails, a call, and social media pitch, the reporter does not want to cover your story.
Xenodochial (friendly) reporters will write back even if they’re not interested, but some don’t at all.
Yes, it can be hard since you’re sure this reporter will want to cover the story, but they get millions of emails per day, so if they’re not writing back, you need to move on.
Zeroing in on reporters that want to cover your story can be tough, but now you know how to reach out to someone covering news in your industry.