PUBLIC RELATIONS: 5 Ways to Catch a Journalist’s Eye

By Danielle Ford

Pitching reporters can be discouraging. You put the research into creating a stellar media list, craft a perfect pitch, and start e-mailing away, only to be met with…silence. Here are a few tips to increase the chances you’ll hear back when pitching!

1. Customize Pitches

Unless you’re emailing a news desk or “info@,” you should always greet journalists by their first name. Susan Payton, President of Egg Marketing and Communications, puts it this way:

“I’ve been getting what appear to be customized pitches, but when I scroll to the bottom of the email, I see I’m just on a MailChimp list somebody’s built of media contacts. That doesn’t make me feel like you took time out to research what I talk about, and it certainly doesn’t make me interested in talking about your product.”

Send individual emails (even if you’re just copying and pasting essentially the same email). Insert the contact’s first name.

Check out our previous post A Simple Way to Make Your Brand Messages Stick, Every Time

 2. Find Journalists’ Relevant Stories

Researching a journalists past stories is always helpful, but when you can find and reference an article really relevant to your pitch, your pitch really stands out. It can be as simple as,

“Hi Kevin,
I saw your story about the zero energy home built by students at Stanford. I thought you might be interested in this story about a housing project that was just outfitted with solar panels!”

3. Interact with Journalists on Social Media

Follow the journalists you’re interested in working with on Twitter, Facebook, their blog. Answer questions. Retweet and share their posts. Comment and ask them questions on their blog posts.

Establish a rapport. That way, when you do send a pitch their way, they’re receiving a pitch from someone they are familiar with – someone they know supports their online presence.

4. Pitch As Expert

Pitch yourself or your client as an expert in the industry. Write a short paragraph that is half biography, half pitch (longer than your standard one-two sentence bio, but not too long). When relevant newsworthy events come up, write pitches about the event incorporating ‘expert quotes.’ Engage with journalists as an expert, rather than simply pitching your product, setting yourself up to become their to-go industry expert.

One of our clients published two books on the legal industry he works in. We sent copies of his books with a cover letter introducing him. With his books on their desks, when relevant stories come up, he is at the top of their minds, and is often called for legal clarification or expert opinion.

5. “We Just Spoke”

If you are good on the phone, try giving the reporter a call and giving them an elevator pitch to see if they’re interested. Many are busy and just say “send me an e-mail.”

This can be disheartening if you’ve already sent them three e-mails and haven’t heard back. You can use it to your advantage, however – update your subject line to say “WE JUST SPOKE – (original subject)” and start the email mentioning you spoke on the phone and this was the release they asked you to email them. This brings the email to their attention and dramatically increases the chance they read it and get back to you.