This is a guest post by Anne Isenhower, national media relations consultant.
Those of us in PR often come across a double-edged sword when pitching the media. On the one hand, you know the pitch (phone call, email, or social media message) should be tailored to your target contacts by considering their interests and recent stories.
“I definitely tend to look much more closely at a story idea when it’s clear that the PR person knows I write about the topic and isn’t just throwing me and a couple hundred other reporters the same idea and hoping it sticks,” said freelance journalist Geoff Williams, who writes for U.S. News & World Report and Reuters.
On the other hand, we’ve all been told to “just get the pitches out.” So, how can we balance the two?
The best way to avoid being in that situation is to work as far ahead as possible on every campaign so you’ll have time to educate your client, create meaningful content, research your target media list and customize and time your pitches.
If you need help pushing back on a colleague or client who’s urging you to make the wrong short-term pitching choices, ask a senior colleague to help. As a last resort, you may have to rotate off an account or fire a client. Ultimately, the media are your clients too, and if you lose credibility through off-target pitches, you can’t be effective.
Here’s a list of ways I effectively tailor pitches:
- Take lots of time to research your media list via Cision, Google, and outlet site. Creating a great list can absolutely be an SVP’s job and shouldn’t be delegated to interns.
- Give journalists as much time as they need to consider coverage; if you’re making an announcement on a certain date, plan to reach out several weeks ahead of that date.
- Before you pitch, get to know your contacts’ interests via their Cision profiles, websites, LinkedIn profiles, and Twitter feeds. The latter can give you pitch timing clues; if the journalist is at their desk working (good time) or at a conference (may not be a good time).
What are your tips for focusing on quality over quantity?
For more pitching tips, download our free guide: 10 Tips for Getting Your Pitches Read—and Reported.