When I asked some of my colleagues what advice they might give to my students, one of the most resounding requests was “learn how to pitch a reporter!” So I have put together some of the key elements.
1.) For the love of all things holy, make sure your story has news value. Reporters hate being bothered with trivial, non-stories. Don’t even think that you can try to disguise a story— most reporters have a very keen sense for BS and don’t forgive so easily.
2.) Make sure you have your talking points in front of you. You don’t need a script (and definitely shouldn’t sound like you’re talking off of one) but if a reporter asks a question and knocks you off your thought train, your notes will be a helpful guide to getting back on track and making sure no pertinent details are forgotten.
3.) Don’t launch straight into your pitch. Introduce, introduce yourself and ask the reporter if it is a good time to talk. Most reporters will be grateful for this, especially if they are on deadline. If they can’t talk when you call, ask when is a better time to call them back and then FOLLOW UP. Don’t expect them call you back.
4.) Establish a relationship with a reporter. Reporters are people, too, and you’ll likely have to pitch multiple stories to some of the same reporters throughout your PR career. Even if a reporter doesn’t run a story after a pitch, don’t hold a grudge, it may have been his editor’s call. If you establish a good working relationship with reporters, they will know you can be trusted with providing them quality stories and sources.
5.) Relax and be confident. Sure, you’ll be anxious the first few times you pitch, but with these few tips and a little practice, you’ll soon be on your way to being a PR pro.