Pitching tips from Cari Shane

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Word PR on newspaperIn February, inVocus spoke with Cari Shane, the principal of Sasse Angency, a public relations, marketing and social media boutique in Washington, D.C. But Shane isn’t only a PR pro, she’s also a former television and radio reporter, as well as a writer for various publications including The Washington Post. This makes her particularly qualified to give advice on crafting effective pitches and growing better relationships with media professionals. So without further ado, Shane’s pitching tips:

Be aware of all media platforms

Being a PR professional means getting involved with social media and being aware of Web-based media as well as traditional outlets. For Shane, that means being on Twitter but also still reading The Washington Post. It also means utilizing all media outlets appropriately. As she better understands reporters’ pitching styles, she has found that her pitching success builds year after year.

A subject line is as important as content

On the topic of writing a subject line, Shane said you have to “wow” them. The subject line given should be good enough that it could be used for the title of the story. On occasion, Shane said a journalist was drawn in purely by the subject line she used, such as “The Vagina Dialogues.”

Don’t make reporters do much work

Shane is a firm believer in fleshing out the story so that reporters don’t have much work to do. Once a pitch is written, she can edit it to fit the journalist’s angle. Good PR work means handing reporters fully fleshed-out pitches “on a silver platter,” she said. In fact, Shane has been told her pitches are some of the best reporters have ever seen.

Be frank, put yourself in the article

If a pitch is moving forward, Shane briefs her clients before they’re interviewed by reporters, giving the advice that it’s best to be forthcoming. Meanwhile, the most important advice a PR professional can give to a client is to make sure you put yourself in the article. “You can either be the background information that the reporter needs for writing the article, or you can be the quote,” she said. That means making sure that the talking points are interesting, since every direct quote is another name drop in the article for the client.

–Anna Adams & Katrina M. Mendolera


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