What do you do when you have a great story to tell, but your emails are getting drowned out by hundreds of other pitches? You pick up the phone.
Whether you’re a budding public relations (PR) coordinator or a seasoned industry veteran, pitching stories and resources is a necessary part of your job.
After you’ve done all your homework, and you’ve found the most appropriate reporter to engage, picking up the phone and having a real-time discussion about your story proposal is a solid way to establish and grow a relationship with a journalist.
As a former journalist, I’m familiar with both sides of the coin. If you’re not pitching by phone, here’s what you’re missing out on.
Making a connection
Connections are key in PR. We’ve discussed this before on our blog, but it’s important to mention again.
Building relationships with reporters through email, social media, texting, in-person and over the phone, are sure-fire ways you can get a face connected to your name in somebody’s email inbox or call list.
The difference between a call and an email is vast. Unlike an email, with a call, you have the ability to gauge a person’s interest through tone and engage in an actual real-time conversation. So long as you’re not interrupting a reporter’s day or catching them at a bad time, the right story pitched to the right reporter could likely end in success for both of you.
Building your confidence and rapport
Calling a reporter who you don’t have an established relationship with yet can be an uncomfortable experience. Thoughts can run through your mind like: what if they say no, what if the reporter is on deadline, what if I’m not able to provide the details requested?
To ease some of that stress, instead of making your initial pitch be a phone call, make it your follow-up. After you’ve sent an initial email to the reporter, follow up with a call. By making that call, and getting in touch with the reporter, you can use your email pitch as a point of reference.
As you make more calls and connections, you’ll build your confidence.
What’s a strong pitch to you and your business, might not be a strong pitch to a reporter. Make sure you do your homework to be able to provide reasoning as to why the story is important. In order for your pitch to be newsworthy, it should meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Timeliness – does it tie into a trend or an upcoming moment-in-time?
- Proximity – make sure you are pitching reporters who would write about that particular geographic location
- Impact or consequence – will additional jobs be made available to the general public as a result of your news? Will taxes decrease? Will a walking pathway be added to a busy thoroughfare?
- Novelty or rarity – did your business break a Guinness world record? Is it the only organization to gain a title in your geographic region?
- Human interest – would your story make someone cry or laugh? Would it tug at heartstrings?
- Prominence – does your story include a local celebrity, e.g., a politician or a well-known CEO
If it doesn’t meet any of these requirements, it’s not a pitch. Don’t waste your time, or even more importantly, don’t waste the time of the reporter, who may write you off for not bringing forth a valuable pitch.
Also remember to put yourself in the shoes of a reporter or editor, so you can be in-tune with the topics they cover and the audiences they’re trying to reach. A pitch to a food reporter is often vastly different than a pitch to an education reporter. Ask yourself, “is my pitch hitting the right target audiences and will it increase the media outlet’s website or social media traffic?”
If so, press the “send” button on that email, then give the reporter a call.
If you’re interested in learning more about PR and tips on how to get your pitches heard, let’s connect on LinkedIn.