Blog — The Snow Report
This is Part 4 in a five-part series titled The Art of the Pitch.
Part 1, Four Factors That Make for an Ideal Pitch, can be found here.
Part 2, Doing Your Pitch Homework, can be found here.
Part 3, Crafting the Pitch, can be found here.
Once your story pitch is teed up and ready to go, all you’ve got to do is send it, right? Well, sort of. While it’s easy enough to send off your story suggestion to the journalists on your list, it’s worth considering a few things before doing so.
One at a Time
We discussed the need to “keep it custom” in Part 3, but it’s worth reiterating here. Emails that begin with “Hello”, “Dear Sir”, or another generic introduction tell the recipient that your pitch was sent to multiple targets at once, making it less likely to be considered. Journalists favor exclusivity. Something as simple as addressing them by name, with a pitch that clearly indicates it’s been written for their needs, has a better shot at success.
That’s not to say that using a system to send multiple pitches at once is always a bad idea, but it’s helpful to weigh the benefits (speed, convenience) against the potential drawbacks.
Try to Avoid Fridays
Generally, Fridays are when companies and politicians release unfavorable news. There are reasons for this – generally media consumption is lighter on Saturdays, and by Monday there will (hopefully) be other, more recent news to cover. For media pitches, there is another reason to wait until Monday: if the email goes unread on Friday, it will be buried deep within the inbox by Monday morning.
Exceptions include breaking news on a Friday that you’ll want your source to be a part of, or publications that have midweek deadlines. In those cases, Friday isn’t such a bad option – but the earlier in the day, the better.
Careful With the Follow-Ups
Routinely and without fail, one of the biggest pet peeves cited by the media about PR people is receiving an immediate phone call after an email was received, in which the PR person says, “Just confirming that you received our press release.” Chances are they saw it, and they’ll write about it if it’s compelling. Calling immediately to follow up will probably land you in the reporter’s dog house and might do more harm than good.
There’s no official rule for when to follow-up, but I generally try to allow for a buffer period of at least 24 hours – possibly several days depending upon what type of medium I’m pitching and the urgency of the story. And when I do get a journalist on the line, I’m quick to ask if it’s a good time to speak before launching into the reason for my call. A little courtesy goes a long way.
Part 5 of The Art of the Pitch will be posted next week, in which we’ll discuss “Preparing the Expert Source”.