I first heard her say that about 10 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it because she’s right.
When I worked as a newspaper editor and reporter for more than two decades, I accepted and rejected thousands of story pitches. The PR practitioners who really won my heart were the ones who let me know that my newspaper was special. They gave me great stories, or angles, that one else had.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are six ways to romance journalists with your pitch:
1. Make sure your pitch is a perfect fit for their audience.
Be ready to answer the question, “What’s in it for my readers (or viewers)?” Does your product or service solve a certain problem? If it does, that’s one of the very best angles for a pitch.
2. Pitch fewer journalists, not more.
This will let you spend time creating a customized pitch for each one. Pitching 100 journalists the same story is akin to herding them all into the barn like cattle, feeding them all at the same trough, then sending them back out to pasture.
3. Know what the journalist covers.
If, in your pitch, you can mention a related topic the journalists wrote in a past article, or a blog post, or on Twitter, you’ll command attention. That says, “I read what you write, I know what topics you care about, and I think my story idea relates to it.” Almost NOBODY does that.
4. Do a Google search before pitching a journalist.
Spending two or three minutes online can reveal all kinds of interesting information about a journalist’s likes and dislikes. If you come across a reporter’s blog, you’ve just struck gold. Read my other tips on “How to find journalists online and wow ’em with your pitch.”
5. Tie your pitch to breaking news.
Publicist Michelle Tennant of Wasabi Publicity, a specialist on how to tie a pitch to breaking news, placed one of her clients, Dr. Jonathan Ellerby, an expert on sweat lodges, on “Larry King Live” just after the deaths at a sweat lodge at the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Sedona, Ariz.
6. What follow-up story can you pitch?
This can be one of the very easiest ways to generate publicity. Too often, when somebody gets publicity, they fail to share with journalists or broadcaster what happened months or years later.
For example, let’s say you got significant publicity for your companywide fitness program that rewards employees for staying fit and losing weight. One year later, return to the same journalists who covered it and bring them up to date on how much weight your employees have lost. Use the term “follow up” in your pitch. It’s journalist lingo.
Update on Feb. 14, 2011:
Here’s Number 7: Do what the publicity superstars do. Who are the superstars? You’ll recognize the names. Donald Trump. Robert Kyosocki. Suze Orman. They all started out small but learned 12 things that set them apart from everyone else when it comes to generating publicity.
Learn what they know about becoming an in-demand guest on big programs like “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show. Join Steve Harrison for a free teleseminar at 2 or 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17. It’s called “”How To Become A Regular Guest On National TV And Other Secrets Of The Publicity Superstars” and you can register here. (Even thought the call is free, I receive affiliate commission from Steve if you buy any of his products or services.)
What other pitching tips do you have for romancing journalists? Did you use any creative angles, do in-depth research, or offer creative sidebars that generated fabulous coverage?