January 30, 2016
/ by Katie Gaab
Preparing a well-crafted pitch is only half of the battle to gaining media coverage. And with journalists slowly, but surely, joining social networks, PR professionals are left wondering where and how to pitch.
If you’ve invested time into researching your editorial calendars and media contact profiles, you’re off to a great start. But how can you make the best possible impression and actually get through to target reporters?
Follow these tips for pitching reporters on their top four preferred contact methods. Just remember, the personal preferences of journalists will vary, but a media database, such as Cision’s, gives insights into individual reporter pitching preferences.
Email remains by far the most preferred contact method for journalists. In fact, Cision’s 2015 Global Social Journalism Study found that 81 percent of journalists chose email over social media, newswires, snail mail or even face-to-face contact.
So why do so few PR professionals find success in this method?
Too many forget to do their homework before hitting the send button and their pitches are often sent straight to the trash.
Start by focusing on the target reporter’s audience. What will resonate with their readers and feed their appetite for more news?
When in doubt, shorten your pitch. Always include appropriate links and contact information, but don’t send attachments or full-length press releases.
Lastly, think long and hard about your subject line. That’s your golden ticket. Make sure it shines without sounding too presumptuous or sales-focused.
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A third of journalists still prefer to be contacted by telephone, and in Finland, Germany, the U.K. and Australia telephone pitches are the second-most preferred method of contact.
So why are those reporters ignoring your voicemails?
Too often PR professionals have a me-first focus…or simply don’t know if the reporter still works at the outlet.
A regularly updated media database will have up-to-date information about a reporter’s official job title, their coverage area and insights into the topics presently interesting them most.
Don’t wing your verbal pitches. Before making the call, practice what you’ll say with colleagues and ask for feedback.
Additionally, don’t give into the urge to ring up your target reporter every week. Those who call too often will quickly turn into a pest instead of a resource.
In fact, USA Today’s Susan Page guarantees she’ll respond to a certain PR professional’s phone calls simply because he only pitched her three total times over a year and a half time period.
While over half of journalists believe social media has helped their productivity, only 22 percent of journalists currently turn to social media to receive pitches.
So why are reporters becoming more social savvy but not using these platforms as much as other contact methods?
Chances are those pitching on social are following the wrong tips. And while Twitter has hinted at removing the 140-character limit, that doesn’t mean social will or should become a place to write a reporter a book.
Avoid public pitches and respect Twitter direct messages, LinkedIn InMails and Facebook messages. Personalize your pitch and always offer to move the conversation to another medium.
Our basic rule of thumb? Email pitches should be short; social media pitches should be even shorter.
Journalists turn to newswires to beef up their stories with data or new industry information. Many even source stories from press releases.
To make the most of a press release, think back to the inverted triangle formula and start with your key takeaway. Give reporters the details they’re looking for at the beginning, then build out the more general information later.
Include links to more in-depth information on your brand’s digital newsroom and always remember to include contact information.
Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3
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