COMMENT: The Big Pitch - What’s more crucial, knowing a journalist or knowing how to pitch your story?

Irving Straus

Irving Straus

Irving Straus

Straus Corporate Communications

New York

My answer is that ’knowing’ an editor can be nice, as he or she may well

listen to what you have to say more readily than one who doesn’t know

you. But knowing somebody will not sell a bad or misdirected story. It’s

far more important to know the editor’s interests and know that your

story is a good one and/or right for him and his publication. If the PR

pro has done his homework, the story will sell whether or not he knows

the editor. In their client relationships, many PR practitioners make

too much of their knowing media people. PR people should stop using who

they know as a pitch point for new business, and clients should stop

asking about it. Knowing a publication, knowing how a writer or editor

works and knowing that person’s priorities are what’s important. It’s

surprising how many larger, presumably sophisticated companies do not

understand this aspect of PR work.

Gemma Puglisi


New York

There are so many outlets out there today - and there are so many of us

- that it really does help to know someone. Reporters and editors are so

pressed for time that if you place a call or send an e-mail and they

know you, they listen. You have to build the relationship to build your

credibility. They know that what you’re going to offer them could be an

exclusive. Years ago, people were afraid to talk to PR firms. It’s

changed. I would never bother someone if I felt that what I had wasn’t

exactly what he or she wanted. Knowing them and having them understand

what I do and that I respect their time, I feel they would pick up the

phone. You could have the best pitch in the world, but if they don’t

know you, you’re just in the mix with everybody else.

Kathy Doherty



Knowing how to frame the pitch into a newsworthy package comes first, I

think, and it’s one of the best ways to get to know reporters. They

appreciate contacts that know and honor the news-gathering process and

who consider how a particular medium might approach the story. Before I

meet with a reporter, I have in mind an icebreaker pitch that might

work. Over that conversation, not only do we become acquainted, but I

find out why the story flies or bombs. Then a relationship can begin,

which helps both parties when a rumor flies or a crisis occurs. I want

reporters to trust me personally and to be convinced I know my stuff as

well as understand their business. Even for routine pitches, I try to

’get’ what kinds of stories they need and promise thereafter not to

pitch high and outside. It’s a matter of respect for news.

John La Sage



The most important thing is that you know the publication and the


It’s useful to know a reporter, but no discerning reporter will accept a

story or a story idea solely on a personal relationship. That’s not

serving the client. I think this has changed over the years - since more

reporters specialize in particular areas now, they are more perceptive

than ever. There are also more vehicles through which reporters can

report (print, Internet, etc.), so I think that it’s very important to

know the particular publication. If you take an inappropriate story to a

publication, you’re quickly going to be found out and you’re going to

have trouble the next time that publication is important to you and your


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in