Pitching Tips from Regional Media Contacts
During yesterday’s Publicity Club of Chicago monthly luncheon, panelists discussed how PR pros can make the most of positioning local pitches with a national perspective.
The panel included Susan Caraher, Assignment Manager for ABC News’ Chicago Bureau, Jeff Flock, Chicago reporter for FOX Business Network and Ron Schofield, regional video producer for the Associated Press.
All three panelists harped the fact that they are inundated with irrelevant, off-target pitches each and every day. Jeff even noted on the spot that he had over 650 unread emails alone sitting in his inbox. Interestingly, Jeff also remarked that he felt that the press release was a requirement of the past. Instead, he made the point that reporters like himself are now rarely looking beyond the first 4-5 sentences of a pitch to determine whether or not they are interested in the story idea.
Along with a host of other tips, the panelists drove home these key reminders and pitching tips for PR pros:
1. Build relationships – Commend reporters if you like their stories, show that you pay attention to the topics they cover and build relevance as to why you are a contact they should keep in mind.
2. Be timely – Follow the wires, see what’s trending for news that day and keep in mind that big stories are the primary focus of every reporter – especially regional contacts such as the panelists.
3. Don’t sell, build a story – Reporters aren’t going to just write about a product – that’s an advertisement. Show the larger story and demonstrate how it relates to a larger audience.
I had the opportunity to snag Ron for a few minutes after the luncheon to recap some of these key tips. Apologies for the loud background audio, Ron was a popular guy so I had to grab what I could. Thanks Ron!
That Jeff would read the first 4-5 sentences of your pitch to determine its point or intention of a seems generous. If your pitch’s hook isn’t crystal clear in the first 1-2 sentences or, better yet, in the subject line, I’d have to think most reporters would move on.
Solid tips, Scott. Thanks for sharing.
Scott, thanks for this recap. I worked on putting this program together for a couple months and it was well worth it.
The PCC program committee members are true team players!
Thanks Mike. Absolutely Tom, it was a great panel and thanks for your hard work coordinating.