How Can You Effectively Pitch Media These Days?

It’s pretty clear pitching has changed drastically in the past five years.  When speaking to a group of media pros in the Columbus area, I learned a lot about how our role as public relations professionals as changed, and more importantly, how the media want to be contacted.

Most savvy PR practitioners have been strategically utilizing social media for the past few years.  We’re listening to our audiences, we’re gathering news, we’re promoting our events and announcements, we’re staying on top of the latest trends, etc.  However, I remember the time when it seemed like we still needed to cater to those “old-school” journalists when we were pitching media outlets like newspapers, radio stations, etc.  It was assumed journalists were more reluctant to take your tweet or direct messages seriously – they probably wanted a phone call (or something else entirely old fashioned).

At the PRSA monthly luncheon this week, any lingering ideas I had of stuck-in-time journalists were erased.  I listened to editors, directors and reporters from the Columbus Dispatch, WOSU, 10TV, WTVN and Business First all confirm they want email pitches.  In fact, some said they want DMs on Twitter.  I could not agree more – the immediacy and effectiveness of hitting a media contact on Twitter is far more efficient than sending them one of 300 emails they are getting that day, or calling them (when they are likely too busy to answer or out of the office).

When you start following media contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn, you begin to establish a relationship with that person.  You are paying attention to what events they are covering, RTing their articles, or replying to questions they post.  (You can even build a list of media contacts that you want to follow daily in a dashboard like Hootsuite or TweetDeck).  And vice versa, if that contact is following you, they can see you are a knowledgeable source who posts relevant information.  So, when you send that DM, they are going to pay attention to what you have to share.

Ideally, the best pitching strategy for today’s busy media:

  • Send them a relevant, targeted email.  According to one media pro, format your subject line like this: “subject, verb, object.” For example, “Tressel leaves OSU.”
  • After you send this email, send them a direct message on Twitter, and let them know you just sent them an email about Tressel leaving OSU.  Reporters always want an exclusive, so if you can, give it to them… and doing it via Twitter DM is an immediate, private way to do so.

Again, this strategy works best when you’ve been following this media contact previously.  So get out there and follow your target media contacts.  Build that relationship, offer them exclusives and get those targeted, concise pitches flowing!

**Special thanks to all the media who participated in the PRSA luncheon this week; the information was very valuable!

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