Here’s how to boost your success when making a media pitch

One of the highlights for me of the 2019 Portland Communicators Conference was a panel discussion among three members of the Portland Business Journal (PBJ) editorial staff. Editor Suzanne Stevens was joined on stage by reporters Pete Danko and Elizabeth Hayes. Their topic: how to best interact with the PBJ staff so you don’t waste your time — and theirs — when making a media pitch.

Suzanne said she typically receives a couple of hundred emails daily. With that volume, how can a PR pro ever hope to break through the clutter with their pitch? Here are the highlights of the advice they shared so you can do just that:

1) Let the reporter know that interviews and photos (or photo opportunities) are available. A photo is needed with every story.
2) Point out what is different, new or unique about your story angle/product/company. Even better: are you creating a new category in your industry?
3) Be aware of what’s happening in your industry. Just because your company has a new product isn’t news if other companies already have a similar product on the market.
4) Draw the reporter in right away in your pitch — and keep your initial email brief.
5) Read previous stories written by the reporter you plan to pitch. Don’t pitch a story on a topic or industry that the reporter doesn’t cover.
6) Don’t send a pitch email to everyone in the newsroom. Target the reporter who covers the appropriate beat.
7) The PBJ doesn’t do company anniversary stories so don’t bother pitching that unless you have an additional news angle.
8) Refer to a previous story the reporter wrote and explain how your client represents a new angle on that topic.
9) You can send a national news story to a reporter and let that person know how you have a local connection to it.
10) Offer to provide experts on the topic, even if it’s just for background info. This is a great way to build a relationship with a reporter.
11) Figure out how your organization fits into a current trend in your industry and pitch that. Reporters love trend stories.
12) And lastly, when you send out a news release, make sure it contains actual news.

This is all great advice, especially for PR folks who are relatively new to the industry. I’ll be covering topics like these and so much more at a two-hour news writing workshop I’ll be presenting on the afternoon of Oct. 17 in downtown Portland. Click here for more info and to register.

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