It has been a few weeks now since I was a proud attendee of the 15th annual Valley Publicity Summit presented by SPJ. Didn’t catch my tribute? Read it HERE.
Panelists, made up from top members of our media, gathered to shed insight and provide tips when it comes to pitching story ideas.
I compiled the top eight below:
Tip #1: Do Not Email Everyone in the Newsroom
Do a little homework and make sure you are targeting the right person for the right pitch. An email blast to the entire team comes off as lazy and impersonal.
Tip #2: No Attachments
Almost all panelists agreed they do not open attachments. Rather, they prefer to have all the information in the body of the email itself. If they are interested and need additional information, graphics, etc., they will ask for it.
Tip #3: No Pitching Over the Phone
Never call and “cold pitch” a busy journalist. Rather, send everything they need to know via email first. If gone unanswered for an ample amount of time, it is then acceptable to follow up via phone.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Can Keep Your Word
Make sure you have everything lined up before you press send! If you have a spokesperson to accompany the story, make sure they are indeed available. If you have a date in mind, make sure it is cleared. Give them all the details and ensure you can back it up.
Tip #5: Be Mindful of Their Inbox
One panelist explained that on a given day, he received upward of 1,000 emails. No exaggeration. This is why we must be a bit patient after sending the perfect pitch and not getting an immediate response. It is also one of the reasons it is so important to create the perfect subject line/story angle that will stand out from the others.
Tip #6: Be Mindful of Their Time
There is a misconception that newsrooms and publications are swirling with people. In this day and age, one person now does the job of three to four. Their phones are constantly ringing and their inbox is constantly filling. They have to meet future deadlines while keeping up with current happenings. Respect their time and be sure to maximize it.
Tip #7: Not Everything Has to Be on TV
This is coming from a seasoned broadcast professional. He explained that PR pros feel a lot of pressure to get their stories on TV, but that isn’t the only option when reaching out to local news. You can actually pitch broadcast with a digital story- one that will be promoted on social media and could have just as much success as an on-air segment.
Tip #8: Keep it Concise
I know, I know. We have the perfect story and we just want to convey how awesome it is! Fight the urge! Instead, focus on the specifics and get straight to the point. Some even mentioned that they prefer a bullet point list instead of a lengthy message. Just enough to pinpoint the details and catch interest in the story. The rest will follow.