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Reporters – They’re Just Like Us

July 19, 2019

By Tyler Odom, Junior Account Executive

As a public relations agency, some of the most important relationships we have are those with reporters. Reporters help spread awareness of our clients’ brands and unique stories to their readers. Cultivating relationships with reporters can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember – they’re just like us. We treat journalists with the same respect we would with any other person we wish to build a long-term relationship with.  

Our goal is to make a good first impression that leads to continued communication and a mutually-beneficial partnership. Reporters are human beings (surprise), so we pitch them how we would want to be pitched. 

Journalists can receive hundreds of pitches a day and mass email pitches are a one-way ticket to the trash folder. We understand competition is fierce when trying to get a reporter to pick up your story. This is why we use these best practices to ensure our pitches catch a journalist’s eye.  

We pitch your story. Alerting the press on your latest product launch, newest hire or winning moment is what we’re here for. More importantly though, our aim is to connect our clients to broader stories or trending topics that will help get their stories told. 

Research. Research. Research. It’s necessary to research and identify relevant reporters based on the content we are pitching. Having knowledge of the journalist’s beat allows us to pitch to reporters who are most likely to be interested in covering our client. It often helps us to think through the reporter’s eyes. – Will this content be of interest to the reader? Does it apply to the needs of my audience? 

In addition, showing knowledge of the reporter’s previous work lets them know we have done our homework and seek to extend their subject matter even further. 

Email trumps phone calls. Nine times out of 10, a reporter prefers PR pitches to be sent in an email. Reporters are extremely busy and don’t want to be bothered with phone calls all day. Emails are less intrusive and allow reporters to quickly sift through the hundreds of pitches they receive daily. While connecting on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn can be helpful, a good old-fashioned email is our go to strategy. 

Email etiquette is key.

  • Typically, reporters are looking for their stories in the morning with their deadlines at the end of the day. So, we like to send our pitches early in the morning. 
  • Never underestimate the power of a subject line. Always avoid using buzz words and exclamation marks, so the email doesn’t appear to be spam. The subject line should simply convey the email’s purpose and give the reporter a sneak peak of what’s inside before they open it. 
  • Personalization is key when developing a relationship with a reporter. Little things matter like remembering to double check the spelling of the reporter’s name before pressing send. No one likes to see their name misspelled; it can be a bad first impression. 
  • Reporters are on tight deadlines and don’t have time to read a lengthy email. This is why pitches should be concise and to the point. 
  • For follow ups, one is enough. Numerous follow ups could lead to future email pitches being moved straight to the trash folder or email addresses getting blocked. 

We strive to cultivate the best types of relationships with reporters, understand the needs of their audience and the content that interests them. This ultimately leads to more exposure and success for clients.