With the emergence of digital and social media trends, the basics of news reporting have shifted, as well as ways in which public relations professionals pitch to the media. However, each industry still relies on one another and it is key that as public relations professionals we maintain a trustworthy and dependable relationship with reporters. On March 5, the Noisy Trumpet Public Relations team attended a PRSA luncheon titled: “Confessions from Ex-San Antonio Journalists: Secrets of a Successful Pitch.” The panel included three experienced and insightful women who transitioned from working in a newsroom to careers in public relations. They revealed how to efficiently pitch to the media from the perspectives of former reporters. Here are a few tips our team learned from the event:
- [Build a Good Reputation] Reporters want stories that pertain to the beats they cover and don’t want to receive every pitch you send out. Personalize each email by mentioning you’ve researched their relevant work and why your story should be of interest to them. When reporters notice that you pitch them relevant stories and aren’t crowding their inboxes, you are more likely to gain a positive reputation with them.
- [Be Mindful of Deadlines] Promptly respond to questions from reporters and provide them with helpful resources, such as photos, videos or website links. Always attach press releases as a Word document, and embed the release into the email. This allows the news desk to quickly insert it into their scheduling system.
- [Get to the point] The majority of reporters spend little time reading a pitch; so, it’s critical to engage them right away. Don’t send pitches that are lengthy and overcrowded with information. Capture their attention with a savvy subject line and maximize the preheader text for mobile devices. If sending a press release, make sure to clearly identify the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why.)
- [Pick Up the Phone] It’s okay to follow-up with reporters on the phone, but don’t pester them. When you call, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions and provide new information. Based on their feedback, you can decide on how you should move forward with your pitch. Be conscious of the news cycle and only call at opportune times.
- [Shareable Content] In the digital age, reporters look for story ideas that will translate to social channels and garner the most shares. Therefore, the basics of reporting have evolved and so should your pitch. This means amplifying the social aspects of your story with imagery, localization, trending topics, human voice and brevity.