Getting the attention of top-tier reporters today is more competitive than ever. It’s no secret we are in election season, and the news season is arguably more saturated than it has been in recent history. Yet, our job remains to break through the clutter so that our clients are seen and heard. While there may not be a magic bullet to pitching, there are certainly best practices we can all remind ourselves. What better way to find out than to ask reporters themselves?
I recently attended a “Meet the Media” event, hosted by PRSA. At CooperKatz, we do a significant amount of work in healthcare, and this was an opportunity to hear directly from some of the most influential healthcare reporters and producers, including Dan Childs, a managing editor for ABC News, Susan Wagner, a senior coordinating producer for NBC News, and Julie Revelant, a writer for Fox News, among others.
While much of their advice was specific to healthcare reporting (e.g. they love specific patient examples and stories that will improve people’s lives), much of what was said can be applied to just about any industry.
Here are the top 5 tips from the media pros:
- It all begins with the subject line – Reporters are most likely to pay attention to pitches with subject lines that jump out and grab their attention. The best way to do that is to use buzz words like “statistics,” “embargo,” “breaking news,” “deskside opportunity” and “survey.” Reporters also recommend copying multiple reporters from the same outlet on a pitch to ensure it gets into the right hands.
- Focus on the story, not the client – Worry less about pushing your expert or spokesperson at a reporter – chances are they have access to dozens of experts on the topic you are pitching – so that is not what will catch their eye. When drafting a pitch, instead focus on the news and story you are trying to share. A good story pitch will sell your client.
- Include a visual – Draw the reporter into your pitch by including visuals whenever possible. An interesting video, infographic or image gives reporters additional tools to use in a future article and will also help tell the story you’re pitching.
- Keep it simple – Cut to the heart of the story as soon as possible. The more concise your pitch is, the more likely a reporter is to read it.
- Show your personality – One panelist said that a PR person who is able to be authentic, relevant and credible in a pitch is incredibly refreshing. If you are able to be personable and relaxed in your pitches while delivering interesting and important news, you are not only most likely to get noticed, you’re most likely to build a positive relationship with that key reporter who has been on your radar for months.
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