Working with reporters is not unlike dating: sometimes you have a great date and sometimes you have a disappointing one. There are a few mating rules to keep in mind when dealing with the media, and the first and most important is to be a giver, not a taker. Think about stories in terms of her needs not yours – she wants news. Instead of talking about how great your company or brand is talk about what you and the others in your industry are doing, and trends you are spotting across these brands. That’s news. Plus:
Pitch to the right person. Tailor the pitch to the reporter. Reporters are notoriously thin-skinned and it irritates them to get a pitch that has nothing to do with their beat.
Pitch to the side. Reporters are competitive – they want good stories. Business reporters may be interested in a science story, sports reporters will be interested in an entertainment story, and entertainment reporters could be interested in a tech story, if you angle or position the story properly.
Pitch to underlings. There is value in building relationships with junior-level reporters and producers. They’re also a hell of a lot more accessible than senior people. Give them tips – they’re competing with the old lions in the newsroom so if they can get a great story, they will be more likely to help you out with less exciting ones. Naturally, as they get promoted, they will remember you.
Pitch during holidays and weekends. My PR firm is open the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when nearly every other PR agency is closed. When I get asked about it the answer is always the same: does CNN air that week? Does the Wall Street Journal publish? As long as those answers are yes, we’re open for business and I’m happy my competitors aren’t. On a normal day, we’re competing against every other PR person for time on the phone, on air or in print. Holidays give you a chance to slip through a story that wouldn’t get coverage during “normal business hours.”
PR Firm CEO Ronn Torossian Book Excerpt