I recently had a chance to sit down with reporters from ABC, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fox and TIME, and they were kind enough to share with me what they want from PR professionals in the New Year. Bottom line: The days of smiling and dialing are long gone. Relationships do matter, as does taking time to figure out what stories the reporter may find interesting, understanding their beats and tailoring pitches, as obvious as that sounds. Here's how a few top tier reporters put it – in their own words:
Richard Davies, ABC News Radio business correspondent, had this to share:
· Keep it brief: My time is valuable, and my attention span is short!
· Sharpen up your writing skills. Put your best idea in the first sentence of your pitch.
· Never on Thursday: It’s very often the busiest day of the week for news events. Try pitching stories on Friday afternoon or Monday morning.
· In-person may beat online. Try to do some of your business face-to-face, not always on the phone or via email.
Forbes and Inc. contributor Peter Cohan shared this wish for 2015:
“I want PR people to introduce me to clients who can help me write about my favorite topics – for Inc.: surprising tips for achieving startup success and for Forbes: startups that are taking customers from publicly traded companies.”
James Rogers, Fox News science and technology editor, encourages people to be extra cognizant that he is talking to several spokespeople a day and producing stories at a rapid pace. Most importantly, he encourages people to really take the time to determine what stories he is likely to cover.
A technology reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek said the best pitches connect companies to something bigger than them. Reporters are more likely to write about something that they can put their own stamp on, rather than just taking an announcement and working very narrowly. Many PR people seem to realize this, but fail by going much too broad. As a tech reporter, there’s nothing I can do with the trend of “increasing interest in mobile” or “bringing your device to work.” So, as wide as you can go while remaining specific. Also, if you’re going to connect a pitch to someone’s past work, you have to be right about what someone covers. I’d rather have no attempt at a personal tie-in than one that comes off phony.
Jason Sanchez, TIME and Money video producer, also wants PR professionals to take the time to get to know his coverage areas and let him get to know company executives without the pressure of having it lead to automatic coverage. “I don’t want the pressure of taking the interview to then have you and your client think that automatically means a piece in the next week, month or even three months. Have the patience and flexibility to see that maybe it isn’t going to be an immediate story, but there’s potential for it down the road.”
So before you raise a glass and sing “Auld Lang Syne,” take some time to think about upping your media pitching game in 2015. Happy New Year, and happy pitching!