When sending a pitch to a journalist, what’s the first thing you need to check before hitting send? Checking your information is accurate perhaps? Making sure it’s short, swift and to the point? Making sure you’ve spelled their name correctly?
Whilst all of these points are absolutely important, they shouldn’t be your first consideration.
Instead of focusing on what you’re sending out, your first consideration should be for who you’re sending it to.
And, most importantly, why.
I attended a media conference in New York a few weeks ago. The event was an opportunity for business school PR and communications professionals to hear directly from influential journalists working within the business media on what topics interested them most and understand how their schools, faculties and alumni could contribute.
Whilst these journalists hailed from a wide range of publications and platforms: newspapers, magazines, TV programmes, online hubs and podcasts, it was alarming to discover one problem they had all regularly experienced when dealing with PR professionals.
The vast majority of PRs had no idea who they were pitching to, beyond discovering the journalist’s job title and media outlet.
Is that a problem? You bet it is.
If you don’t know who a journalist is. If you haven’t taken the time to look at previous articles they have written, identify the topics they like to write about, get a feel for their individual styles and approaches, or even how regularly they write, then the chances of your pitch catching their attention amongst the hundreds of others they receive are slim.
It’s not only their interests and writing styles that should be noted by PRs but their location too. Consider, would a journalist based in New York be able to attend an on-campus event for a school based anywhere other than their home state? Or conduct a telephone interview with your professor at 9am GMT? It’s highly unlikely.
Any credible journalist can spot these ill-informed pitches within the first few words, and many will reject them on that fact alone.
Not only does this hinder your success rate, it also stops you from making a good impression and building a positive relationship with a journalist. More worryingly, it also shows you’ve not fully considered how you’re presenting your client to influential media, or who you’re presenting them to.
Before you put your press list together, take a few minutes to look at each journalist’s back catalogue and consider; how does this journalist like to work? And, how can my client fit in with this?
This simple check can be the difference between success and failure.
If you would like to find out more about how you can attract journalists to attend your events, check out Stephanie Mullins webinar.
The webinar covers:
- How to identify your audience
- Logistics for journalists
- Perfecting your pitch
Author: Kerry Ruffle