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Inside The Newsroom: Bloomberg’s Pitching Playbook

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Bloomberg editors share their thoughts on how pitch successfully

As one of the most influential business publications in the world, reaching millions of people from 150 bureaus around the world, Bloomberg looms large in the world of PR. Securing a thoughtful and strategic business story in Bloomberg can make your client’s day. Unfortunately, every other PR professional knows that too. With so much competition, it can be a challenge to convince a reporter that yours is the story that will interest their readers.

At a panel discussion in Bloomberg’s San Francisco Bureau last Tuesday, three Bloomberg editors – Brad Stone, the senior executive editor heading up Bloomberg’s Technology reporting; Mark Milian, a tech editor overseeing startups and venture capital; and Danielle Culbertson, the managing editor of Bloomberg TV and Radio in San Francisco – shared their thoughts on how to capture a reporter’s attention. Here are the three main takeaways from their discussion.

Informed, Short and Sharp

When asked about pitching, all the panelists agreed that the best pitches share two common traits: they are well researched and concise.

At a global publication like Bloomberg, each reporter writes on a specific beats but also has his or her own specific interests. Even though it takes time and effort, reading their stories and identifying the reporter’s interests goes a long way towards capturing their attention.

“If you say ‘I read these five stories you wrote and I think you’ll be interested in this story because…’ no reporter can resist,” said Milian. “You’ll at least get them to read your pitch.”

The other point to remember is that reporters get a lot of pitches. Getting to the point quickly will go a long way towards getting a reporter to read your pitch. It is easy to fall into the temptation of trying to share your client’s whole life story in one email, but this creates an intimidating body of text that a time-restricted reporter is likely to delete/ignore, and often buries the most interesting point. There will be time to share key messages and background later in the press release or during an interview. Panelists said that using bullet points instead of paragraphs can go a long way towards breaking through an email triage test.

Unfortunately, even a precise pitch will fail if it can’t meet one major benchmark.

Is It Interesting?

Though it is hardly a new rule, the panelists said the benchmark to keep in mind when reaching out to a reporter is: “Is it interesting?”

As extensions of our clients’ teams, it is easy to get invested in their story. So sometimes it helps to take a step back, forget everything you know about your client and ask yourself who will take the time to read this story if it gets published. If you do not immediately include yourself (among others), it may be time to brainstorm a new angle.

Also remember that it is not just the reporter’s interest you have to capture, but their readers’. In the case of Bloomberg, the readers are informed businesspeople and investors. When considering what story you want to tell, the panelists recommended keeping it broad enough to appeal to people who may not have specific technical knowledge.

The Role of Editors

While it differs from publication to publication, at Bloomberg the editors view their role as focused on supporting the writers rather than dictating content.

“I see my role as more developing story ideas and reviewing copy,” Stone said.

While the panelists said that they are usually more than happy to forward a pitch to right person, it is the writers who are interacting with the breaking news and proposing stories. Reaching out to and building a relationship with the reporter who most closely aligns with your company is the most likely path to success.

Do these tips align with your experience when working with media? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts on building enduring reporter relationships.