Tips from the Source: Local Reporters Share How to Attract Their Attention

This blog post is authored by Lisa Atufunwa, Account Coordinator at 104 West.

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) offers a variety of professional development and networking opportunities - designed to connect the local PR community while offering skills to boost your client relationships.

I attended PRSA's Annual Media Roundtable Luncheon in April with my colleague, Marney Hatch. During the event, we attended a young professionals pre-luncheon panel to hear local reporters discuss their 'Do's and Don'ts' for media relations, as well as a round-table session with reporters in a small group setting to hear what topics they are interested in covering, their pet peeves, and how to get them to open pitch emails - the Holy Grail in PR.

The luncheon provided a good opportunity to connect with reporters and learn new tips to improve my pitching strategy. Throughout the event, we learned many gems some that we were aware of and other to take note on.

Here are some helpful tips:

It's Not Always About You

Take a moment to think about your current relationships with reporters. When was the last time you pitched them a story that didn't benefit your client? One way to build and nurture relationships with reporters is by sharing stories that do not have any ties to your work. This shows reporters that you are investing in their success and the success of the publication.

By helping reporters find stories to report, you're creating a relationship that can build a trust - eventually having reporters come to you for tips or commentary.

One way to find out how reporters prefer to be pitched, and stories they are interested, is by sending an introduction email or set up a coffee meeting. In your introductory email, share a list of your clients with a one sentence about them, along with topics your firm covers.

Be Mindful

When pitching with reporters, be cautious of their time. While this tip seems like a no-brainer, the constant stories the reporters shared during the panel told another story, including a story about the time a PR professional continuously reaching out to the same TV producer for two stations even after expressing only one email or call was needed for both stations.

Reduce the amount of time going back and forth with the reporter, and give them all of the information at once. This will help make the reporter's job easy.

Reporter Pet Peeves

During the event, an executive TV producer made it clear, in a very animated way, that he dislikes receiving scripts. One by one, reporters shared their list of pitching pet peeves. Most annoying pet peeves include:

- Asking permission to send a release. 'Just send it,' says one reporter.

- No teasers announcements. 'Give us all of the information at once.'

- 'Day-of' pitches. If it was an important story, they may not have the resources to cover the story.

Attending the luncheon allowed me to reexamine my media pitching practice and implement new strategies that are already paying off - a local reporter responded to a recent pitch.

What's your favorite pitching tip?