One of the more critical functions of public relations involves pitching reporters and editors to publish your client’s story. Whether it’s a press release or a bylined article, this task involves finesse and understanding.
First of all, you must realize any publication with a circulation of 30,000 or more gets bombarded with content. It is not unusual for an editor to receive 300 press releases per day. Thus, to have any chance of publication, you must stand out from the crowd. One way to do so involves pre-pitching the story first. You need to get on the phone with reporters and ask them if they are interested in the topic. Then, ask for permission to send the content.
Then, when your document arrives in the reporters’ in-box, they will realize it is from a respected organization or PR agency, and they will treat it with more respect. Of course, editors hate it when you call them by phone; they would much prefer to handle everything by email. But a phone call is the only way you will stand out from the crowd.
When you call the reporter, they might tell you, “I’m on deadline.” When you hear these words, you must end the call immediately. This shows respect for the editor’s priorities. They must publish on time, so being on deadline is an all-consuming priority. But then, when you call back the next day, you can remind the editor how you originally contacted him/her when they were on deadline, and they will remember how considerate you were. The article is as good as published.
Assuming the reporter gives you permission to send your document (few will say not to, they will be interested in getting you off the phone as quickly as possible), you should follow up in three-to-four days and ask them if they had a chance to read it. Nine times out of ten, the answer will be no. Then, you should tell them the exact date and time of the email to confirm whether they did, in fact, get it. They will generally find it or might ask you to just send it again. When you do, they will feel a little guilty for not reading it and will be more likely to do so and give you feedback.
Keep following up in this manner and after the third or fourth call, you should achieve placement of your document.
Pitching is not a difficult task; it just takes time and follow through.