Pitching stories to journalists is a key part of the PRs job. And it is, in all honesty, not my favourite part.
Journalists receive dozens, if not hundreds of pitches every day. Some of the them are spot on, but most will fall wide of the mark.
When editing the Professional Services Marketing Group's magazine, I would receive at least 10 or 15 pitches by email and phone a day. Most were politely declined.
My favourite was from an upmarket pet food manufacturer. Keeping in mind that the PSMG magazine is about the marketing of professional services firms and feeling sorry for the hapless PR, I took the time to explain what our readers look for - ie, not pet food. Her response was priceless - "But, lawyers have dogs too!"
PRs in professional services firms generally have it easier than those working for 'me too' tech companies or questionable consumer brands. Journalists, more often or not, will welcome a well timed pitch offering insight or commentary.
But the rules remain the same. 1. Do your homework. Read a title first before making a pitch. Avoid the dog food moment. 2. Relationships. Try and build relationships with a few really well placed journalists, rather than spray and pray.3. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. Will they honestly want to read what you're offering?4. Email first. If its a really good pitch a journalist will respond.5. And if you really must chase, choose your timing.
I’ve been a contributor for Forbes for 2 years and I get at least a dozen emails every day from PR people trying to get me to write about their clients. So far I’ve only written about one. Why? Because their pitches are horrible. Here’s one I got yesterday. I didn’t publish the name of the company, but I should have put them on blast: Hi Tom, I'm Doris from Anonymous Company. I'm sincerely writing to request an interview by you with the CEO of Anonymous Company, a rapid prototyping tool. We could provide great discounts for all of the Forbes users if the interview content can be post on Forbes.com and shared with the subscribers of forbes.com.