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How to pitch a journalist

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How to pitch a journalist

  1. How to Pitch a JournalistA journalist’s perspective on what works in PR pitches — and what doesn’t.
  2. What does psychology …
  3. … have to do with pitching writers?
  4. Answer: Everything.Many journalists, columnists, freelancers and other denizens of the written word dealdaily with: Deadlines Overwork Email overload Interviews Content curation (finding real stories in a sea of hyperbole and questionable facts) Social media Lack of an editor (many online writers no longer have editors, fact-checkers or copyeditors, so they must work hard to get everything right the first time) Overcaffeination (probably)
  5. Amidst all that pressure, they are devoted to: Getting the truth out to the public Keeping readers informed and up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, current events and other kinds of news Keeping democracy alive through informed public discourse Producing interesting and original articles
  6. It can be a lot to deal with.
  7. How do you make your PR pitch stand out? Image: Diliff
  8. Think of what a journalist needs for a good story: Well-written content Content that matches current trends in the news Something in her field A well-known person or product An exciting topic… and: Someone she can trust Someone who cares
  9. Why are those last two points so important?In today’s busy, info-overloaded world, not that many people careand it’s hard to trust strangers.People who care stand out.Show them you care. Helpthem trust you.
  10. How to show a journalist that you care:1) Get my name right.During my 2.5-year tenure as a problogger for a nationalbusiness blog, you’d be amazed how many emails I receivedthat started with:Dear John, (that’s not my name!)Dear XXX, (you were too rushed to insert my name in the form!)Dear blogger, (you don’t even care enough to find my name!)
  11. Let’s say you get my name right. Now make me interested.2) Capture my attention during the first two sentences ofyour pitch. Refer to something I wrote in the past — and how much you liked it, ideally. “I loved your Sept. 12 blog post about how to be a better pitch person. My company, Pitchers Anon, provides support groups for people who have been rejected by journalists.” Mention something you have in common with me, based on my bio. “I noticed that you’re a professional alligator wrestler. My brother won the 2001 Orlando championships — tough sport. Anyways …" Give me something that you know I would appreciate. “I noticed that you like tuna salad, here’s my favorite recipe.” Tell me how your offering would benefit my readers. “I noticed you’ve covered the ongoing trend of pet implants in the past. I have a client, PetImplant, Inc., that your readers might be interested in. They plug trackers into radio-controlled Burberry collars.”
  12. Capture my attention in the first 2 sentences (cont’d) Use unusual words. To wordsmiths, exotic words are like exotic birds. “I’d like to pique your interest in …” or “Many computer scientists today kludge together their big data systems …” Mention hot names. “The company I work with made Madonna lose 10 pounds.” “We worked with NASA to design a monkey spacecraft.” Impress me with statistics. “Narcissism has grown by 555% since the advent of social media.”
  13. What doesn’t work.These are examples from real-life pitches: My name is John. I am here to inquire about XYZ. (Why should I care?) I understand that as a popular and authoritative business site you are interested in XYZ. (That sounds like a generic pitch, meaning you don’t really care.) I am reaching out from Widgets, Inc. and think we might have some synergy! (Oh really? Tell me why you’re worth more than a cliché.) Nice work with your blog. (Thanks. I think. What specifically do you like?)
  14. Now that I’m past the hook, show me how to like you.3) Be clear about how you can help me. Be specific.“Would you be interested in a candid conversation with myclient, Joe Smith, who personally oversaw the trials for thenewest class of hair-growth drugs? He can share hisperspective on the state of the industry, why polymers andartificial cells are the next big trend in hair growth, and howresearchers can break into this burgeoning field.”
  15. Show me why I should trust you.4) Add third-party proof points that verify the coolness ofyour offering.“Joe Smith has been interviewed by Oprah, and hasconsulted with clients including Kojak and GeorgeCastanza. He won the 2011 National Hair Regrowth Award,and was shortlisted for the 2012 Growee Trophy. Hiscompany is backed by HaiRoots, Inc. and Omigod Health.”
  16. Name specific features.5) List specific features of your offering. One, two or allof them might ring a bell and awaken my interest.“Joe Smith uses cell baiting technology, which involvestricking the hair follicle into thinking it should grow. He usesa dynamotronic centrifuge, open-source big data hair growthtracking, and skin-aware paste for the scalp.”Not: “He uses all the latest gadgets and technology.”
  17. End with a call to action.5) Name my next steps for me. “Let us know if you are available to speak with Joe sometime this/next week. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.” ”Let me know if you’d like a unique article for your publication or would like a copy of his book to review.” “Let me know if you’d like a trial of Ueber HairGrowth Ultra Plus, or would like to send some to your readers.”
  18. Et voila!By following the guidance in this slideshow, you’ll have the tools you need to keep a journalist interested in your pitch. (Image: schwenkenstein01 on Flickr) Good luck and happy pitching!
  19. CreditsPitching Journalists was created and produced by Drea Knufken.