Refresher in Pitching from the Pros

October  27,  2011 / By Taylor Blog

Recently, Mari Rella, Jenna Rathke and I attended the PRSA NY Event titled “Game Day – Meet the Sports Media,” which we used as bonding time for our agency-wide mentorship program as well as a networking tool. It was a great opportunity to meet face to face with individuals from major outlets that we pitch on a daily basis. The media panel provided insight into what they look for at their specific outlet and how they really feel about the relationship between media and PR professionals. Below are some takeaways – and good reminders – that we wanted to share.

  • Pitches are not always black and white. Try to serve it up to the reporter in such a way that benefits them and makes it hard to turn away. Uncovering an outside association that customizes a story for an outlet is what writers and producers are always looking for, especially when a spokesperson is doing a media tour.
  • Know and understand the audience of the outlet you are pitching, especially when it comes to local vs. national. For regional radio and TV, this makes all the difference in the world.
  • Write pitches like you learned to write a news story in high school or college using the inverted pyramid: the first paragraph is key and should have all the important details.
  • Always make sure your contact information (including phone number) is in the email so if they want to follow up via phone, it is easy for the reporter to find.
  • As a rule of thumb, pitch TV outlets a week in advance and give radio and print 2-3 days notice.
  • When following up, be cognizant of reporters’ time. While email follow-up is good, the truth is, after two or three emails with no response, they probably are not interested. If you feel the story is tremendously newsworthy, then a phone call could be appropriate, but nowadays email is the most efficient means. Continue following up as much as you can without losing your credibility.
  • Email pitches should clearly state who/what you have, what they are plugging, and what time and date they are available.
  • Take time to provide different angles to individual media reporters who are all attending the same event.
  • If you have an exclusive, be sure to be completely transparent and clear about what the exclusive is. Will they be the only media outlet there? Will others be on-site?
  • If you invite media to a red carpet event, invite them inside after. They do not need to be wined and dined but after spending hours upon hours outside waiting for the athlete/celebrity, they would greatly appreciate an invite indoors.
  • Though it may not be what we want to hear, attractive females simply work for sports TV shows, nearly every time.
  • Sports media utilize Twitter to gather news and one panelist called it “the wire service at your fingertips.” As PR professionals, we need to take advantage of this tool and use it as a method to be knowledgeable about society and those items which affect our clients.
  • Quick email tips: include summary of details in subject line such as in-studio, date, etc., provide all facts and information to avoid the back and forth, always include PST/EST with timing, and send pitches in the afternoon or evening works to avoid the morning ‘pitch flood gates’.

Along with the tidbits of pitching advice, the panelists spoke about their favorite interview, which varied from Shaquille O’Neal and Dan Marino to William Shatner and Mike Tyson. We heard stories about how being at the right place at the right time is clutch when being a journalist. We also learned that Taylor has a wonderful reputation when it comes to communicating with these outlets and it made us proud to represent our agency in this setting. Keep up the good work everyone!

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