(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)
As an intern, I’ve gained an ample amount of experience and learned many important lessons in the professional world of public relations.
While media pitching is integral to the function of PR, it doesn’t always garner the desired results. In fact, countless emails and pitches go unanswered by reporters.
For PR folks, this is maddening, to say the least. Yet, it’s a common practice we’ve yet to truly understand. So, why do reporters ignore us?
After one of our senior staffers pitched an opportunity to meet with a visiting CEO to various national and regional outlets, the previously mentioned journalist, along with many others, declined. As a sign of good faith, our staffer replied, thanking this reporter for at least taking the time to respond.
In response, the reporter provided a reasonable explanation as to why some media don’t respond at all: they don’t have time. As he explained, he receives around 30 pitches and invitations per day. If each takes roughly three minutes to read and reply to, that’s 90 minutes spent reading and responding to pitches every day.
On top of that, as he stated, declining a media pitch or invitation often results in yet another pitch to reconsider – which wastes even more of the journalist’s precious time.
So, it’s hard to argue with the practice of ignoring an invitation, especially when saying “no” might result in additional pitches.
Once you understand this happens, here are three ways to help prevent it from happening to you:
1) Target your pitches: For many of us, this is a fairly common practice; however, it may be that you’re pitching to media that don’t cover your client’s industry. To avoid this, double-check each outlet to make sure they’re appropriate for your pitch.
2) Research the reporter: Before adding a reporter to your media list, do some background research on them. Find out what this reporter typically writes about, read his/her previous stories, and make sure your story is related to their beat. Otherwise it could lead to you being banished to their spam folder.
3) Customize your pitch: Instead of blasting a generic message to everyone on your media list, personalize the message for each recipient, based on his/her needs and preferences. While this may sound time-consuming, it makes a big difference.
And to enhance future pitches, take the time to build a relationship with the reporter — when they have some time. Don’t pitch … just ask them what they’re looking for, what they’re working on, and how you might help.