By Jullieanne Cueto
A vital part of public relations is pitching new and creative ideas on behalf of your clients. Though, as PR professionals sending out dozens of pitches a week to only receive a few responses, it can get discouraging. To gain a better understanding on how to improve this ratio I, along with a few colleagues, recently attended a event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA): “How to Make Your Pitch Stand Out in a Crowd(ed) Inbox”.
The event featured an all-star panel of Philly-based journalists: Stephanie Farr of Philadelphia Inquirer/ Philadelphia Daily News, Sharyn Flanagan of USA Today, Jennifer Logue of Metro, and Errin Haines Whack of the Associated Press. The panel shared tips and tricks on how to get a response back from a reporter.
Here are some key takeaways:
This first one should be a gimme, but spell the reporter’s name right! Sharyn and Errin both have different spellings of a common name, and as someone who gets their name spelled wrong frequently…I feel their pain. Take the time to make sure it’s spelled right, otherwise reporters will probably ignore the rest of the email and move on.
It’s important to build relationships – Jennifer of Metro appreciated meeting the person behind the emails; she would like to see us more involved with community events. Errin and Sharyn shared similar views and recommended inviting the reporter out for coffee, or in Sharyn’s case any invitation that involved bacon! In the end, being more personal and having a conversation about things outside of work was appreciated.
Understand How Each Publication Works
Sharyn was very adamant on this; it’s efficient and appreciated to take the time to research the outlet and see what and when topics are covered. For example, print stories for Metro need to be in one month in advance for a feature, so plan accordingly!
Each journalist also talked about what they looked for in a pitch:
Errin, as I’m sure many reporters would agree, mentioned getting to the point as soon as possible. Jennifer and Sharyn stressed that pitches that included hi-res images or the opportunity to capture photos or video caught their attention. Stephanie said to spend some time on the subject lines and treat them as a headline.
Hopefully these tips were helpful, happy pitching!