Some people think it’s the hardest part of communications but I love to pitch reporters. If I’m having a bad day or I’m deeply in need of an excuse for productive procrastination – I pick up the phone and start calling reporters.
There is nothing quite like getting the attention of a person who is pursued by hundreds of people every day and read by thousands. Creating that spark in their mind and planting the seed of a story. It must be something like creating that light that goes on in a child’s eyes when they learn something new and you were the teacher or so my mother (a teacher for 40 years) told me.
It’s fun. It’s challenging. But it’s not rocket science. Respect their time, their beat and their desire to scoop everyone else and you can get your own spark going. Court them early and often to build a relationship before you really need them. Talk to them like their human beings when you have the time, or if not, then talk to them like they’re the insanely busy and overworked professionals they are.
Never lie to them because you have a fundamental truth in common – your credibility is your livelihood. If you want to screw with a reporter make sure you never ever want (or need) to talk to them again. Nobody holds a grudge longer. And never ever ask if they got your release. Their Pavlovian response to the phrase is to hang up and delete all future missives.
In the end – their job is to find the story and yours is to create it – so we need each other. They’ll pick up the phone and listen politely (for a minute) or even call you first when you remember the golden rule. Pitch unto others as you would have someone pitch to you. In other words if you think it’s a boring pitch so will they! Get creative.