By Caitlin Fisher, Assistant Account Executive
One of the greatest successes for a PR professional is securing a media placement for a client, especially for a professional just entering the PR field like myself. I have received my first media placements this summer on two client accounts upon joining The Perry Group as an assistant account executive. I would call pitching an “art” in that it truly takes skill, creativeness, and some investigating to find the right reporter that will share your client’s story. Former employers, communications professors at Roger Williams University, and The Perry Group team advised me on the essential rules of pitching. However, only through trial and error did I begin to appreciate and understand what it takes to have a client’s voice be heard through earned media. With that, here are five lessons I have learned from pitching the media on a feature story.
1. Be persistent. Pitching the media takes time and dedication to have your pitch get the attention of a reporter who receives hundreds of emails and calls daily. I learned that one outreach does not do the trick; you must be persistent and contact multiple publications and reporters. Follow-up phones calls within days of the first pitch are crucial, and it is easier to hook a reporter when they are making real-time conversation via phone call. Be respectful and always thankful for a reporter’s time.
2. Make the story relatable. Feature stories are not necessarily timely, which makes it even more important for the story to be relevant to the readers of the publication. Why would those readers care about this story? What’s their connection to this story?
3. Do your research. Finding the right reporter, editor, section and audience is the key to landing a media placement. Read reporters’ bios on what they write about, research all relevant publications in order to reach the target audience, and look into specific sections that are perfects fits for your story. This takes some digging, and maybe some phone calls, to find that special reporter who will be interested in your story.
4. Personalized and to the point. Each pitch must be personalized depending on the reporter you are contacting. With that, each pitch must be clear, direct, and to the point. Provide reporters with the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, and why).
5. Offer your services. Always offer to set up an interview for the reporter, provide additional information, and/or photographs to make the reporter’s job easier, along with your phone number so they can reach you at any time with questions.
The tricky part about pitching a feature story is that editorial calendars for some publications can be months and months in advance. Therefore, my final piece of advice about pitching the media is to plan ahead. If you want a story to hit the stand at a certain time, look ahead and expect the story to take a while to fit into the editorial line-up.
Caitlin Fisher is a 2014 graduate of Roger Williams University. She joined The Perry Group in May 2014 as an Assistant Account Executive, after a successful internship with TPG.