As a public relations professional, you’re always communicating with reporters, and in today’s digital world, it’s usually happening on a screen. Maybe you’re using email to tell them about your new launch, or responding to a question they asked on Twitter and letting them know your CEO is an expert on the topic. In a world of technology, where face-to-face communication is decreasing, how do you get your pitches to stick with people you may never have met? Here are three tips for writing a PR pitch that pays off on any screen.
Do your research: Before you send a pitch to reporters, you need to look into what they’re covering. What are they interested in? Are the articles recent? Journalists’ beats can change, so finding an article even from last year might not help you understand what they’re writing about today. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to get familiar with their recent work, and even better, call out some specifics you liked about the article in your email. Sure, they know you’re pitching something, but it shows you put in the time to get to know them and not waste their time with a useless story. If you don’t take the time to research, you need to be prepared for two scenarios: for them to never open your emails again or for them to call you out on it, either privately or on social media for the world to see. To be safe, do the background work.
Know when to make it personal: If you talk to the same reporter frequently, keep building your relationship by acting like a human and not a robot. It can be tough to act personal when you don’t have face-to-face communication, but going the extra step can make reporters remember you. Think about how many pitches a reporter receives daily. Are you overwhelmed yet? You need to stand out, so if you see from their automatic replies that they are on vacation or going off the grid, ask them about it once they’re back. Even if you don’t have a pitch, you can keep in touch with reporters you have a relationship with and say, “I saw you were in Hawaii from your out of office message. I hope you had a great time! I’m actually traveling there next month – do you have any recommendations on restaurants in the area?” Or, “Wow! I’m so impressed you went off the grid. How did it go? I’m thinking of doing a digital detox, too.” The same thing is true for social media. Share their articles on Twitter, or reply to a post. It keeps you top-of-mind, and they’re more likely to recognize your name in their inboxes.
Tie into timely events: Sometimes you might have an evergreen pitch. The challenge with evergreen pitches is they aren’t urgent. If it can be covered at any time, why should a reporter write about it now? It’s important to stay updated with what’s happening in the world, so you can add a news hook to your pitch. Maybe you’re pitching a small-business expert, and the U.S. jobs report just came out. Using data from reports or reference a major event can help make your story more timely.