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How To Be Better At Media Relations

Last month, I wrote an article for Mashable about Twitter and retweets. It was a fun experience, especially since I don’t fashion myself as a journalist or blogger. Typically, when I write, it’s for a client and the idea for a piece stems from discussion. Client X sees this trend in his/her field and wants me to write about it. Or, Client Y is giving a speech and wants me to write about a broad topic like “Diversity.” So I go about doing the research, compiling the necessary arguments to make my client’s point that much stronger, draft the piece and then have back-and-forth edit sessions.

This is not quite the same when writing for a publication. In fact, I’m in the beginning phases of writing an article I hope to get published somewhere and I posted a query on HARO and ProfNet. And because of this exercise, as a communications firm owner, I can empathise with actual, professional reporters and bloggers who get the crappiest, off target pitches.

If you want to become a better media relations professional, I highly suggest writing an article, blog post, etc and using one of these services to find sources. You’ll see the world from a different perspective.

You’ll see how a smart pitch is crafted and how an eblast really looks from the eyes of a reporter. You’ll see why spelling and grammar really are important. But most of all, you’ll understand why when a reporter asks for a specific source, you should send a specific source.

Media relations is not a science and questionably an art. What it is though, is the ability to connect with other humans. Many PR people forget that reporters are people, too, and that they have lives that are just as intricate and mundane as everyone else’s. You may have the best pitch, right up the reporter’s alley, but it may get ignored because the reporter is working on a tight deadline, or the blogger is dealing with a family crisis and your pitch falls by the way side. I have received numerous pitches in the past day or so; most on target, many aren’t. The ones that have stuck, and of which I’ll be following up with, were the ones that answered my specific question and gave me enough information to move forward.

Real reporters, real bloggers, those that do this for a living, get hundreds of pitches a day. As a communications professional, I understand this and try to make my pitches as relevant and informative (and short) as possible. Now that I’ve dabbled with the other side, I will take even more time in crafting the smartest pitch possible.

What are some of your best practices for pitching?

About joshsternberg

Josh Sternberg is the content strategist for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was the media reporter for Digiday. Additional bylines include: The Atlantic, The Awl, Pacific Standard, Mashable, Huffington Post, Mediaite.


One thought on “How To Be Better At Media Relations

  1. A PR person i work with says this is a good format for a basic pitch. This is for a story pitch not for a response to a query but it might apply:1st – why should they care, something eyecatching2nd – main crux of story3rd – additional details4th – what we are offering themObviously there can be more paragraphs for details if need be. But it should be moving and yet succinct.

    Posted by Lon S. Cohen | May 14, 2009, 6:54 pm

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