Beyond PR

Jan 04, 2012

Pitching Business Editors

There are many things to keep in mind when pitching your news release to a business desk.

As a longtime business journalist, I’ve been on the receiving end of thousands of releases. But to fairly convey what these reporters and editors are looking for, I tapped some old friends for fail-safe words of pitching wisdom.

Many of these can be applied to nearly any news desk. Consider them best practices.

1. Know the news outlet before you pitch. Douglas Fruehling, editor of the Washington Business Journal, says No. 1 on his list is for public relations types to know the organization and the news product before a pitch even is made.

“If you read the business journal, you would know we [might not] cover that,” he said. “You have to know that what you’re pitching is something the organization would think about using.”

Marla Pugh, a longtime business editor-turned-PR maven from California, agrees.

“Think about the audience of the paper you are pitching and include a paragraph about why that publication’s audience should care,” Pugh said. “Is it a conservative daily or a hipster weekly? Adjust your message. Not all releases should be equal for all publications.”

2. Consider the publication’s deadlines and editorial calendar.   Timing can make all the difference in whether or not your story is picked up.

3.  Provide facts.    Pugh also wants to see hard data and numbers – percentage of growth, number of people employed, and customer base – all of that information shows impact.

To follow up, or not?

When it comes to the sensitive subject of follow-up calls, Fruehling admits he’s not adamant like other journalists about not receiving them.

“There have been times when I get would get follow-up calls for press releases, and I went back to reevaluate them,” he said. “I know others would say no follow-up call, but maybe a quick follow up [would be OK]. There have been a couple times when I have deleted a press release – I try to read everything – the subject line or the lede, and then I’ve gotten a call and revisited it.”

Other tips when pitching a business desk:
• Email always. Don’t fax.
• No attachments. (It’s frankly too much work, especially if you’ve got several things going on.)
• Get the journalist’s name right and send the release directly vs. some generic inbox.
• Use plain English and no jargon. Also, use correct grammar and spelling.
• Always include contact info and be accessible if a journalist calls for more information.
• Use a quote from a real person or include perspective (like a customer testimonial).

Need media contacts, editorial calendars and pitching tips?  PR Newswire’s MEDIAtlas is an affordable and robust media database.  It’s updated continually by our global audience research team.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

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