Top Five Ways to Get – and Stay – on a Reporter’s “Nice” List This Christmas:
- Contact the right person. Do your homework. Research the reporter, topics they have previously covered and any recent articles they have produced. If you aren't sure who to contact, visit the outlet's website. Usually a station will have a section for contacts, including phone numbers or email addresses for managing editors, assignment editors, and beat reporters.
- Tailor your pitch. It's important to take the time to craft a message based on each reporter's unique interests and it lets them know you understand their "beat" and their audience. Reporters receive generalized press releases all the time - don't let yours be just another one in the stack. Along that note, be sure your pitch is relevant. Mis-targeting makes you look inexperienced and it's a waste of their time and yours.
- KISS. My high school algebra teacher used to say this all the time - Keep It Simple Stupid. Maybe that's a little harsh for fourteen year olds, but we got the point. Your pitch should be short and sweet with a compelling headline - you MUST grab the reporter's attention! Once you have their attention, your first two sentences must be intriguing enough to entice them to read more. Don't be afraid to use visuals or link to videos or a website if you think it would benefit the reporter and help your pitch.
- Sell your expert. If you're pitching the expertise of an individual, be sure learn as much as you can about that subject matter expert so that you can talk about the person naturally, without sounding forced as if you're reading from a script. What makes the person unique? Pitch your source accurately, and be careful not to promote someone as an expert if they're not. A few years of experience does not necessarily make someone an expert.
- Anticipate the journalist's needs. Have you provided the journalist with a way to contact you during and after business hours? Give a phone number or two where you can be reached, and be prepared to answer questions. Know your pitch "inside-and-out" and be responsive to the reporter. If a reporter is on deadline, they may need answers to questions immediately. If you do not know an answer, or are unsure if you can comment, at the very least acknowledge their inquiry and let them know you are looking into it. Then be sure to get back to them in time for their deadline.
Follow the tips above and you're sure to stay off a reporter's "Naughty" list this holiday season!