Pitching. Phone a journalist with a story idea – sounds easy, right? Not so fast.
The modern-day journalist works in a highly disruptive environment, and PR pitches must adapt to the reality of digital life. Here are words of wisdom from Kate Midena, lifestyle editor at news.com.au, who spoke to PR professionals at last week’s CommsCon in Sydney.
#1 Know who you are talking to
Building a relationship with the journalist is imperative, so is knowing all about the publication they write or produce for. Know who the target readership is of that publication and ensure your news pitch is relevant to them.
#2 Don’t contact online news in the morning
Until the clock strikes noon, online journos are racing to meet deadlines and break news first, unless you have an earth-shattering scoop, leave them be.
#3 Make sure your story has national significance
It’s all well and good that you’re holding an event at Bondi beach, but unless it resonates with most Australians, it’s not worth contacting a national news platform.
#4 If you have stats, pair it with a real-life story
We’re all inherently drawn to the human-side of any story, so before you spit a whole bunch of stats at a journalist, show how it relates to people and what it all means.
#5 If you’re offering an exclusive, make sure we have first run
Relationships in media are incredibly vital, so please don’t offer an exclusive to one news platform if your intention is to auction out the scoop. Have integrity.
#6 Be newsworthy
Yes we love the rebrand of your rice bubble packet, but please, no spin, we just need news.
#7 Don’t telephone pitch to more than one journo
We literally sit on top of each other in the newsroom and can hear you hear you calling. Chances are we’ve already talked about turning down your pitch following your last phone call.
#8 We prefer email pitches to phone pitches (unless it’s urgent)
A clear and concise pitch via email is preferred to call. Just get to the crux of what the news is straight up and leave all the rest. We need to know what you’re pitching.
#9 Follow-up calls are fine but…
Please follow-up the next day, not half an hour after you’ve pitched a story via email. We’ve literally got an inbox that teeters on the edge of bursting. The only exception is, if it’s critical, CALL!
#10 Is it meaningful to the audience?
Does the news you’re pitching add value to the audience? This is particularly pertinent to lifestyle stories and product launches.