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Pitching the Media

By Leanne Bucaro


When pitching a story idea to a reporter, remember that they don't really care. Your job is to make them care. A well thought-out, concise pitch will ensure you don't strike out. Give them a great story that is unique, timely and will help make their job easier!

Understand that reporters are contacted by PR people all the time, and may very well be in information overload by the time you connect with them.

A pitch needs to be worthwhile to the reporter, otherwise they have no time to hear about your website, business, product, or life story. Make sure to provide value to the media. When you reach out to a reporter, develop your story angles and develop your media materials in advance.

You can make this more useful to a journalist by developing story angles from a reporter's perspective -not a business owner's, conducting yourself in a manner free of hype, clichÉs, and puffery, using proper etiquette when contacting a reporter or editor and providing interesting statistics that the journalist can quote in other industry round-up stories.

What not to do when pitching is to pitch without knowing the reporter's body of work, send attachments with your pitch, or automatically use the "BCC" (blind copy) feature when sending an e-mail pitch to multiple journalists. It has to be personal whenever possible - so take the time and tailor your list to each journalist or editor. If you do "BCC", ensure that the group you are sending the release to is alike enough that you can put a short message in before you embed the release in the email.

Don't create an entirely new term for what you do. Always use industry- standard vocabulary and focus on using features and clients to set your company apart from the competition.

Never ignore the importance of relationships; PR is first and foremost a relationship business. When constructing your release, make sure to put the words "Media Release" in the subject line. Make sure you spell the reporter's name right and know if the person is a man or a woman, so you can address him/her appropriately.

Also find out what days the reporter publishes and what are the deadline days, so as to avoid calling at a bad time.

Sweat the details. Many releases fail to include crucial data such as whether or not an event has a cost or, if it's free, if the meeting is open to the public, or if reservations are needed, etc.

You can leave some things out. If you must use an acronym, spell out the phrase first and put the acronym in parentheses after. Quotes aren't always necessary for a release, but if there is something colorful or insightful you can say, put it in quotes and attribute it to the person who said it. Although the reporter may not feel your pitch is worth an entire article, they may deem some of it useable. Let them know you appreciate it.

Leanne Bucaro, co-CEO of Infinity Communications, is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience in communications and media.
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