Ideas fresh off the wire

3 Things to Know Before You Pitch a Journalist

Muck Rack and Mashable team up for a tell-all on pitching 101…

Constantly refreshing your inbox? Wondering if it’s too soon to call? Stalking social media profiles?

If it seems like pitching a reporter sounds a lot like dating, that’s probably because it is. And as a PR professional, you don’t want to come off too clingy, especially in the beginning of your “relationship.”

Mashable reporter Jason Abbruzzese (left) recently joined Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant (right) for a webinar on how to pitch journalists. So the next time you build up the courage to make a move on your desired journalist, consider the following:

Think long and hard about how to make your move

When it comes to pitching a journalist, first impressions are everything. You want to make sure your pitch is appealing, visually pleasing and relatable. Most importantly, you have to make sure the timing is right and start things off slow.

Journalists will be more responsive to those who take the time to get to know them rather than those who are just looking for coverage. Abbruzzese says, “I don’t care about who’s pitching me, but I tend to respond more to those who take the time to form a relationship with me.”

As for timing, most journalists prefer to be pitched mid-morning between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.—after they’ve had time to declutter their inboxes. But, of course, there’s always the exception to the rule.

“If you have a targeted pitch for a specific reporter, monitor when journalists are active on Twitter to get them while they’re online or taking a break,” Abbruzzese said.

Journalists like attention, but keep it subtle

According to Abbruzzese, journalists like when you follow them on social media, particularly Twitter. Not only is Twitter the most-valued social network, it serves as a way for journalists to let their readers know what they’re thinking and when. It can be a huge aid to pitching efforts.

“It’s fine to pitch a reporter you recently followed but be subtle,” says Abbruzzese. “Don’t ‘like’ my last 10 tweets, but interactions are key.”

It’s also good to keep in mind that journalists—just like you—are constantly checking their social media to see who’s giving them the most attention and who’s giving too much attention to too many journalists.

“If you’re a PR professional, you don’t want journalists to see you’ve been tweeting multiple people,” Abbruzzese said. But “journalists feel validated when they see their stories being shared [on Twitter].”

Accept that maybe they’re just not that into you

Maybe you got lucky and secured some initial interest from a journalist. Maybe it seemed like things were going well. But sometimes you just have to accept that the feeling wasn’t mutual and move on to the next.

For those who need some closure, the top reasons journalists tend to reject PR professionals are:

  • There’s no connection. “Personalized [pitches] or not doesn’t matter,” Abbruzzese said. “But PR pros should at least have an awareness of the publication and the journalist’s beat.” Simply put, you need to make an effort to get to know the person you’re pitching if you want a media relationship that will last.
  • You called one too many times. Journalists are (very busy) people too, with most receiving upwards of a few dozen pitches a day, according to Abbruzzese. The sad reality is most pitches don’t get a reply. Carefully read your situation to understand whether it’s OK to follow up.
  • You talked way too much. Before you make your move, make sure your pitch is as concise as possible. Abbruzzese says starting an email with, “Hey, saw your story and thought…” or “loved your piece on so and so” are immediate red flags.

So the next time you consider starting a new media relationship, remember to take things slow, show interest and don’t take it too personal if you get a rejection.

Interested in more pitching pointers? Follow us on Twitter @HighwirePR.

Note: All data is from Muck Rack’s Webinar “How Journalists Prefer to be Pitched” hosted by Greg Galant on Aug. 30, 2016.