Expert Q&A: Stephen Bonser, cofounder, Media Pitchers

Stephen Bonser, cofounder of Media Pitchers, a media relations company that can be hired on an hourly basis, gives media relations tips and discusses outreach amid a changing media landscape.

PRWeek: Given today's media landscape, what are some of your tips for media outreach?
Stephen Bonser: Respect the time of the people you contact. Assume that everyone you speak to or exchange e-mail with is on deadline and under pressure. Be brief, factual, and cut to the chase about why your client's story is newsworthy.
Don't overdo it. The rule is: you get one phone and one e-mail per pitch. Bothering editors and reporters with "follow-up" calls and repeatedly e-mailing them is annoying, unprofessional, and may change their mind about covering your pitch.
Understand that pitching is more important than ever. Staff downsizing is placing enormous pressure on news organizations which means they have less time to spend talking to sources and researching story ideas. When they receive a phone call or e-mail with an interesting, credible, and well-thought-out pitch, you've done a real service for their readers or viewers.
PRWeek: How can media outreach be conducted on an hourly basis?
Bonser: We provide media pitching services on an "as needed," pay-as-you-go-basis for maximum convenience and flexibility and to generate publicity for our clients when they need it most. Typically we recommend a minimum of 10 to 20 hours of pitching to target the highest interest media outlets first and then we generate a detailed report of the contacts made and the results. Many of our accounts continue by adding more hours to expand the pitching efforts and over time come to count on us as a permanent resource to handle at least a portion of their media relations. Outsourcing is a fact of life in most industries today. Anything that can be done efficiently and with less overhead by an outside organization has a strong appeal to many organizations, particularly during tough economic times.
PRWeek: Your press release says that, according to Media Pitchers co-founder Todd Capps, your company "can quickly and affordably put a news release in front of hundreds of editors and reporters at national, regional and local news outlets, potentially giving it "top of mind" exposure." What do you do to gain that top of mind exposure?
Bonser: Wire services that distribute news releases to targeted media lists are an effective and affordable method of generating publicity. The challenge is to ensure that the release then gets the attention of editors and reporters so they'll consider covering the issuer. The role that media pitching can serve is to summarize the intrinsic newsworthiness of the release by telephoning and e-mailing a brief explanation of why the story is topical and interesting. Competition for media coverage is intense and professional pitching can really provide an edge to PR efforts to gain editorial coverage, especially when a story is positioned correctly.

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