As an occasional public relations agent for my clients, I have pitched many press releases in my career — mostly for small businesses and start-up companies. I’ve read so many articles from reporters, journalists and editors that are addressed to PR pros such as myself, entitled “What Journalists Want you to Know,” “How Not to Pitch the Media,” etc. Some of the tips include not sending mass emails or attachments with your pitch, not doing your research on the publication, and excessive follow-up.
Well, I wanted to put together a list of things that PR consultants (and their clients) would like journalists to know, from all the small businesses of the world who are desperate for PR coverage. Please forward this along to any journalists you know. Here goes:
Why are you Hiding?
Why can’t we find your email address on your publication or media outlet’s website? We understand the need for spam prevention, but isn’t the point of having a news site to allow your readers and interested parties to contact you with story ideas? I do not want to pitch you via a generic web form, or dig for five minutes to find your editor’s name. Please post a masthead or editorial team/staff listing with relevant reporter/producer names and email addresses with the areas that they cover, so we can pitch appropriately.
- We can’t Read Everything Either: Reporters complain that PR professionals don’t understand their publication’s coverage or beat before we pitch. My response to this is that we are pitching hundreds of publications for our clients. Many times we are working in an unfamiliar industry to us, so we can’t possibly develop a custom media list and understand every single outlet that we pitch prior to sending you an email. Just as you don’t have time to read every single pitch, we don’t have time to read every single issue of your publication, or truly understand it in depth. Most of us do the best we can to understand what you cover from your website, so if the information there is lacking, so will our knowledge of your publication.
- Be Polite: We will try not to bother you when we pitch or follow-up. However, when we don’t hear anything back from you, we will try to follow-up once to make sure. Please don’t be rude to us unnecessarily if you’re not interested in our pitch. We are people too. Just a polite “we’re not interested in covering this story at this time” response (and why — this will help improve our future pitches) and a thank-you will go a long way.
- Sometimes we Make Mistakes: If we accidentally make a mistake, such as sending a pitch to an editor that is no longer at your publication, or misspelling your first name, don’t hold it against us. Again, see #2, above. We are working from a long list, and an occasional error can happen. Don’t take it out on our client or avoid considering a good story idea because of a little mistake (I’m sure you haven’t made any mistakes either, have you? :).
- Support the Little Guy: We know that big news is big news, and expect you to cover major announcements from the major companies and brands, with major dollar, local or industry impact. We know that sometimes we send you news that is not necessarily earth-shattering. However, some of the time, won’t you consider covering the start-up or small business, who may have something intriguing to share? After all, every big business started out as a small business. You, as a journalist, can be responsible for helping them grow. And really — how many of your readers are also from a small business? Perhaps they would enjoy reading about the little guys too.
So there you have it — Five things that PR consultants want journalists to know (but were afraid to say out loud). If you have any other advice for journalists, please comment below. And if you are a journalist, please know that we mean no harm. We just really want some good PR coverage for our clients. 🙂