At WitzEnd, we talk a lot about how to work better with reporters and clients as PR people. We’ve written about pitching specific publications and even shared tips from the likes of Phil Harvey of CRN. Now, we’ve taken things one step further with a podcast version of our journalist interview series. In our inaugural WitzEnd Podcast, we talk to Sue Marek, SDxCentral Editor in Chief. We chat with her about working with PR, why too much PR training can be a bad thing, and why having experience working with media is very important.
Here are three takeaways from our interview. We also encourage you to listen to our entire interview below for more insights into pitching the media.
Tip #1: Get to Know Who You Are Pitching
We’ve heard it from a variety of reporters, but it bears repeating: Mass email pitches are not enough. Tech journalism is such a niche driven industry that pitches have to be tailored to an individual reporter. “Tailored” pitches don’t just mean reading a bio and adding a new intro to your pitch either. You have to read a reporters coverage to truly understand what they’re covering. As Marek points out, reading a simple LinkedIn bio does not offer much insight into a reporter.
“People know my background in wireless so they think I might cover smartphones, but I’m not doing that at SDxCentral,” Marek says.
Tip #2: Nobody Likes to Waste Time
In today’s digital media landscape, a briefing has to lead a reporter to a good story. The days of informational briefings are gone. If a journalist walks away without a story that work’s for their publication, they’ve just wasted their time— and your clients. That’s why it’s key to have the right spokesperson for the story. Make sure your spokesperson can talk about the announcement and isn’t so ingrained with talking points that they can’t answer a reporter’s questions. Marek warns that sometimes too much PR training can be a detriment.
“Sometimes I have people who are too PR trained and don’t say anything,” adds Marek.
Tip #3: Experience is a Valuable Commodity
Young PR people are often times tasked with pitching reporters. Often times they’re asked to do this when they’re not ready to be a valuable resource that can get reporter’s questions answered. It’s an unfair place for a rookie PR person. If they haven’t had the chance to understand the client, all they’ll end up doing is disappoint a reporter. Marek recommends that if you want to get a story published, don’t give it to the person right out of school.
“Don’t hand the pitch off to the person you just hired out of college to call me. I ask a question and a person with that amount of knowledge won’t be able to answer it,” finds Marek.
Bottom Line: Do Your Research
It may seem like commonsense but it often goes missed, you need to do your homework when pitching reporters. A media list will only take you so far. PR people need to read the publications they interact with and be just as knowledge about the high-level bullet points of a product as their client. So read up on your targets and put in the extra time to understand how your client’s news will impact the broader industry.
For more great insights from our interview with Sue Marek of SDxCentral check out our inaugural podcast episode below. And stay tuned for future podcast episodes in the near future!