Tips for perfecting your pitch to reporters

PRWeek's news director speaks on the pitch process and bridging the gap between reporters and account teams.

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

In many ways, the gap between PR professional and journalist is narrower than ever. The reason: content. But try telling that to a reporter on deadline who’s being inundated with irrelevant story pitches, and he or she might disagree. 

I won’t give away all the tricks of the trade, but in an attempt to bridge the gap between reporters and account teams, here are tips for working more effectively with journalists. Enjoy, and happy pitching.

If you have a good story to pitch in two minutes or less, great. One minute is even better.

Frank Washkuch, PRWeek

Get our names right. Nothing makes a reporter or editor hit delete more quickly than an emailed pitch sent to the wrong person, or no person at all. 

You’d be shocked, or perhaps not, at how many emails reporters get addressed to blank spaces. This rule applies to the name of the media outlet as well.

Of course, you’re busy too, but journalists are really busy. Most are juggling multiple stories a day while working against numerous deadlines, and editors haven’t gotten any nicer over the years. So if you have a good story to pitch in two minutes or less, great. One minute is even better. 

Speaking of time, the never-ending news cycle and tighter deadlines, not to mention the stories that pop on social media and change everyone’s plans, mean fewer meetings out of the office for coffee — and far fewer lunch appointments. 

That’s a shame, not only because reporters need human interaction, but also because meeting in person is good for both sides. Reporters are more likely to open and respond to messages from people they know, and the person on the other end of the device has a much better chance of gaining coverage. 

Take advantage of events where journalists are a captive audience, such as award shows and alumni gatherings. It might be your best chance to put a face to the byline and could lead to success down the road. 

Which leads me to my last tip: Get to know your reporters. Want to make your pitches stand out from the virtual piles of emails today’s journalists receive every day? Know what the reporter is interested in — beyond what they’ve tweeted about that morning. The pace of the media may be more effective, but actually knowing someone is still as impactful.

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