During the holiday season, while children hope they don’t find lumps of coal in their stockings, some public relations professionals may be feeling similar pangs of anxiety about whether they’re on a reporter’s “naughty” or “nice list.” Inspired by Beth’s Art of Pitching The Media blog post, I’d like to add some personal recommendations on how you can continue to stay on journalists’ “nice lists.” Because no one wants to get coal in their email inbox.
- Do your research: In the professional world, it is always a good idea to learn about a person’s interests prior to a formal meeting. When trying to get a job, for example, you should learn about your interviewer’s background so that you are able to provide more educated and relatable answers. The same goes for reporters. A successful public relations professional is constantly monitoring the news and making a mental note of the stories a reporter covers. This knowledge comes in handy when it comes time to pitch a story. Reporters’ positions and beats are always changing, so PR pros have to stay on top of their game.
- Write your pitch around your research: Since you spent time researching a reporter’s beat (you did, right?), take the time to write out a personalized pitch. Reporters are constantly being bombarded with generalized pitches that serve no purpose to them, other than causing frustration and clogging their inbox. An attention-grabbing subject line referring to a reporter’s recent story will catch his or her eye; it shows you have been following their work. After all, everyone likes to be noticed!
- Respect their deadlines: As this article from PR Daily points out, reporters, producers and bloggers all have different news cycles. Many publications have morning editorial meetings to discuss upcoming features and new ideas can be brought to the table. If you are pitching an editorial placement, it is best to reach out to the reporter or editor before these meetings, as your pitch will be at the top of his or her mind. If you are pitching a broadcast opportunity, don’t do so when the segment is airing, as it shows that you are unaware of the program’s airing schedule.
- Following up on your pitch: After sending your pitch, allow time for a reporter to respond. The last thing a reporter, editor or producer wants is to hear “Did you get my email?” when the original pitch was only sent ten minutes prior. Unless the opportunity is time sensitive—i.e. offering an exclusive or embargo—the best practice is to follow up the next day via phone.
- Monitor for coverage: When a reporter decides to cover your pitch, it adds an extra touch to send a quick thank-you email when the coverage goes live, telling them that you enjoyed working together. This simple exchange shows that you monitored for the story, value their work and are looking to work together in the future.
If you follow these five steps, you will stay on reporter’s “nice list,” secure great coverage for your clients and, most importantly, avoid coal and other terrible presents.