By Madelyne Rosenberg
“Journalists hold the mic” is a phrase that describes how a reporter’s relationship with an organization can represent the voice of that organization. Media relationships are what an organization develops with media outlets or individual reporters, which can help to introduce products that are relevant to a certain reporter’s beat or interest. The reporters use their relationships with a company to pitch stories or sources.
PRSSA VP, Mark Hollander, presented a media relationship workshop that showed how to target your pitch, the different types of pitches, how to craft a pitch, and additional tips that come in handy when thinking about time, attitude, and what you want to accomplish.
Pitching a story to journalists helps to expose your product and build credibility, according to The Daily Muse. It’s a technique that helps smaller and lesser-known companies get their name out. The best place to start when pitching is identifying your target media. Hollander says, “ It’s important to know a reporter’s beat.” What are they interested in? Why would they be interested in your product? Either cast a wide net or target a specific audience that is located in areas you would like to reach. Once your target media list is identified, it’s time to decide how you will present your pitch.
Hollander suggested a few productive ways to present your pitch: email, phone, fax, face-to-face, or social media.
When crafting a pitch by email, Hollander suggests starting off with a catchy subject line to get the reporter’s attention. The subject line is important because if left blank, most people tend to scan over the email or delete it without further thought. The greeting follows the catchy subject line, always addressing the reporter you are talking to, not the news organization they represent. It’s important to create a relationship with the reporter. When forming the body of the email, Hollander gave an example that focused on the reporter and his or her past interests. For example,
“ I saw you recently wrote a product review in ____ regarding _____. So here’s another idea you might be interested in.”
The body of the email can then focus on what you want the reporter to do or read. In preparing to write the email, it is helpful to research the reporter to make sure they would have some sort of interest in your pitch.
A great example for closing the email would be, “Would you be interested in receiving a free order of ____ to try yourself? Could you write a review or press release if you are interested?”
Always end with a signature, name, your employer, phone number, and email address as shown below:
University of Iowa PRSSA
In order for your pitch to have the best chance of being seen, you should consider the correct time to send emails. Hollander suggests specific days and times during the week that works with the reporter’s schedules: Monday through Friday from nine to five. It’s also considerate not to send pitches during reporters’ deadlines and to consider time zones. Always remember to be polite: “You rely on reporters to get the word out,” said Hollander, and you are trying to form a relationship. If you don’t receive a great amount of return emails, remember to send follow-up emails. “The “RE” part of the message might catch an eye,” he said.
What are other ways you could individualize your pitch to catch a reporter’s eye?