Depending on how you approach an editor, pitches can be quite a handful. It is not easy especially when looking to have an exclusive published separately to an article on the same topic that has already run in the newspaper.
In fact, this is probably one of the activities that cause many editors to associate PR practitioners with being greedy.
Over the years, I have learnt that however much you invite the media to a news briefing or an event they will not cover everything you want to communicate. They will select only what they feel makes a good story which may not necessarily help you achieve your intended communication goals. Obviously you would like to get out that missed message, so you are forced to craft ways of getting it published.
How do you do this?
Pitching to the right editor
When making pitches for various articles, know that your material must have a segment in a category of news and features that it falls into. Perhaps business, lifestyle, straight news or sports, but each has an editor in charge. It is therefore very important to approach the right person if you are going to receive any consideration. Knowing the specific category also saves plenty of time and limits the frustrations of moving from one editor to another. Know the editors of each department.
Relationship with editors
However knowing the editor’s name phone number is not always enough. You have got to build a relationship with them. It may not come naturally easy, but like any other, you have to cultivate it. It requires time and genuine interest in their work particularly the challenges of their routines such that when making a pitch you have a solid starting point. For one thing, you understand what makes a good story for the editor and how to craft the article. With a great relationship, the editor will even offer insights or suggestions and viola you have a published story!
This is a tricky one!
PR practitioners are regularly accused of pitching PR stories. Just because we have a deep understanding of the importance to the public our message is, we should not assume this automatically resonates with the editors. We have got to do our research well and explain graphically to the editors what the relevance is.We must appreciate that their job is meaningful only when running something that has a definite impact on society.
So what does your story mean to the public? Is it inspiring? Is it informative? Can we afford to ignore it? These are some of the questions that will determine the relevance of your story and also how it relates to trending issues—speaking of which….
Timing is important when making a pitch. Chances are, if you pitched an interview or an article in relation to a story of major interest trending at that moment, the editor will gladly use it. This is simply because it’s timely and would be considered newsworthy.
So as PR practitioners, we have got to constantly monitor the pulse of society and exploit any communication opportunities that arise. In that way you will not have to struggle so much when making a pitch based on right timing. With the right timing, you can achieve your communication goals with substantially less effort.
Good luck when pitching!