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Pitching Newspapers & Magazines: Tips from an editor & reporter

Meredith Clements, Society Scene Editor for the South Florida Sun Sentinel

When a frequent recipient of press releases and pitches speaks, it pays to listen. The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s society scene editor, Meredith Clements, recently talked about the best strategies to pitching a reporter/editor. Here are some helpful tips that came out of our conversation:

  1. Starting with the subject line of your email, make sure header you are clear and direct.
  2. Create pitches that are accessible, thoughtful and sensitive to how busy and stressful it is to be an editor.
  3. Don’t be demanding, rude, ungrateful or act entitled.
  4. Don’t send pitches to more than one editor at a time. “There’s something to be said for a personalized pitch,” Clements said.

Clements adds, “The easier it is for me to access the pitch, the more likely I’ll respond and/or consider the request.”

Chris Rauber, reporter for the San Francisco Business Times

As I was reaching out to journalists to interview for this blog post, I came across a tweet from Chris Rauber, a reporter for the San Francisco Business Times. He had been receiving a massive amount of bad pitches. In fact, Rauber informed me he had just received a pitch for a sound system, but he covers the healthcare, insurance and wine industries, none of which are related to sound systems. I asked him to share his thoughts, and here’s what he had to say:

  1. Be specific! Make sure the reporter/reporters/journalists/bloggers etc. you’re pitching cover the topic. Make sure they cover the relevant geography. I get tons of pitches about hospitals in Florida, wineries in Vermont, insurance companies in Chicago, even though I write for the San Francisco Business Times.
  2. Ideally, get to know individual reporters/journalists. In most case, mass pitches are a mistake and a waste of time, and your client’s or company’s money. Unless you’re a huge household name or a public company that has to announce everything to everybody, consider the actual key audiences you’re trying to reach and tailor your pitch to reach the publications, web sites, blogs, etc. that can do that most effectively.
  3. Finally, pitch by e-mail, or Twitter or other electronic means, not by phone unless you’ve got earth-shattering news of specific interest to the specific journalist you’re trying to pitch.

Remember when you’re pitching, give the media stories that talk directly to their readers, listeners or viewers.

Clements can be reached at @societyscene; Rauber can be reached at @crauber.

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