Think Before You Pitch

Posted by on November 20th, 2012

The consolidation of newsrooms across the country shows no signs of slowing down, and it is not just confined to local news outlets.  In the last month or so, Newsweek shut down its print edition and NBC Universal announced major layoffs. For public relations professionals this not only means less pages (and opportunities) to get clients that invaluable, third party, earned media coverage, but it also reinforces the need to make every pitch count as journalists have less time to write more stories than ever before.

We asked some prestigious reporters how PR pros can make their pitches more effective and here is what they told us:

What is the one piece of advice you would provide to PR pros when pitching you?

“Read the magazine so you know what I write. I’m usually looking for quotable sources, not companies or people to profile,” Peter Coy, Economics Editor, Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Media Industry Editor for the Financial Times, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson suggests that PR professionals first make sure that their story idea or pitch is appropriate for both the specific reporter and media outlet he or she is pitching.

What is your biggest pet peeve when a PR pro pitches you?

“Please be mindful of a producer’s show time. Try not to call them right before their show and pitch. It’s best to send an email and follow up with a call after their show is over,” Shartia Brantley, Producer, CNBC Street Signs.

“I prefer the soft sell. If you have a good story, I will follow up,” Peter Coy, Economics Editor, BusinessWeek.

What type of pitch excites you?

“I love pitches that have a compelling narrative. If a story is exciting, and has real people, interesting details, and a larger, useful message to convey, I’m all over it,” Bruce Watson, Features Writer, Daily Finance.

“I like exclusive surveys that will allow for a good conversation on the economy, housing, retirement planning. Also, I like high flying stocks that no one is really paying attention to,” Shartia Brantley, Producer, CNBC Street Signs

Want some more advice on developing effective pitches? Here are some of KCSA’s best practices for pitching:

  • Know what you are pitching: Are you pitching an expert source? A feature? A new product? Is what you are pitching actually news?
  • Have a clear vision for your story: What is the story? What is the headline? Who will be quoted? What research will the reporter need?
  • Remember this is about THEM (the media and its readers) not YOU! If your story will not be useful, informative and insightful to them then a reporter will not write it (period).
  • Email is great and effective but developing phone relationships are even better

Access our full presentation on Pitching the Media on SlideShare.