By Kelly Brokaw
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose
December is officially here, and you know what that means: the holidays are upon us! We all want different things this holiday season – gift cards, clothing, electronics and even our two front teeth. But what do reporters really want?
When a media contact is looking for something different to help craft his or her unique story, it’s our job as PR pros to make the reporting as pain-free as possible. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve provided a few wish list items journalists would like to receive from PR pros this season (and every season, actually).
Consider your pitch the worm that hooks a journalist. In general, most reporters have a “black and white” type of mindset — either they’re interested in your story or they’re not. And the reality is, most journalists receive multiple pitches daily, while some of the most notable reporters and publishers may receive over 100 per day.
As the saying goes, simplicity is key. Try your best to not send a long email pitch with giant paragraphs. While it’s acceptable to attach press releases with more information, a pitch will be ignored if it looks like a brain dump at first glance. Formatting will be your best friend when you’re trying to make text-heavy sections of your email more appetizing for the reader (hint: using bullet points when appropriate is highly recommended).
Each email pitch that you prepare should be unique. Maybe not unique in regard to the content you’re pitching, but it should be uniquely crafted for the journalist that you are reaching out to. Think about it this way. According to The Next Web, nearly a quarter of all email pitches are rejected by journalists for being too “spammy and impersonal.” When media pitching, take that statistic with a grain of salt, and focus more on creating a true connection with the reporter. As Hoffmanite Kelly Stone perfectly summed up in her blog post from earlier in the year …
“Slow PR is about truly knowing these journalists and uncovering both their professional and personal passions. It’s also about better understanding the publication they write for.”
A good story idea still matters (a lot), and it’s what makes news valuable. Believe it or not, reporters still care about what they write, and while they may stress about deadlines, you’ll rarely find that a smart, new angle is wasted. Remember to spend time thinking about the story before you make that call. It goes a long way in creating a lasting relationship with the journalist.
Unfortunately, we PR pros are not mind readers and will never know exactly what reporters are looking for when pitching them a story. But, by following the above tips, we can make a reporter’s job as easy as possible, while still positioning ourselves as a reliable source to that journalist for future articles.