Pitching Tips from POPSUGAR’s Dominique Astorino
Successfully pitching influential online outlets takes time, strategical planning and patience, so when you find that one editor who is willing to listen, a well tailored pitch is even more crucial. Dominique Astorino, the assistant fitness editor at the popular lifestyle site POPSUGAR, has a unique understanding of the relationship between PR and journalists. She has previously worked in the PR and communications filed, and gave us a few insights on building relationships with publicists, the importance of authenticity and much more.
What kind of information do you prefer to receive?
I write a pretty wide array beyond just exercises. Healthy recipes, body positivity messages, weight loss before and after stories, nutritionist and dietitian info, mental health tips, etc. I won’t take a pitch seriously it it’s gimmicky, or something that could infer body shaming (i.e., just received a “this ___ won’t destroy your bikini body,” and I thought, that’s right, because every body is a bikini body, and there’s no way to “destroy it.”)
I do also write up and make workout playlists for our readers, so there’s a music angle.
I like to try things myself before I talk about them, for authenticity. I hate recommending a product never having tried it myself — how do I know I’m suggesting something great to my readers? That said, if a publicist is offering a product for me to try, it has to be practical — a huge piece of home gym equipment isn’t something the average girl is going to go out and buy.
Do you have any pet peeves when working with publicists?
My biggest pet peeve is a straight up cold pitch with no intro. I know that it’s super time efficient to copy/paste and send to a bunch of people at once, but even the slightest intro of who you are, what your client is, and why you think this works for this outlet or me in particular is SO nice. It makes me so much more willing to read the pitch and try to figure something out. I really just hate the PR pitches that sound like sales pitches. You’re not a salesperson! You’re a brilliant, talented publicist with a knack for writing and building relationships — don’t turn into an infomercial or the kiosk sharks at the mall. You’re better than that!
What advice do you have for PR professionals?
The opposite of my pet peeve (favorite thing) is when publicists or new coordinators reach out to just build a relationship. I’ve had a few younger ladies in SF do that, and ask if I wanted to go to SoulCycle or grab juice before work. Getting to know them was wonderful, and hearing their background and story — it also gave them insight into how my publication works, what I’m looking for, and what I’m able to do! One publicist from London visited SF and we made time to get coffee together. I’ll always work with those women, and I feel comfortable giving them honest feedback if a pitch or product doesn’t work at the time. To me, this is the most authentic, best part of PR — real relationships.
How do you prefer to receive pitches?
I prefer email pitches. I don’t know if it’s my generation or my personality but phone calls make me anxious. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t survive PR. I [also] don’t mind twitter pitches, either, but pitching my personal blog for POPSUGAR — when there’s a bolded disclaimer not to — is another no-no.
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