Yesterday, a group from Temple’s PRSSA had the opportunity to step inside the world of the journalists at the Philadelphia Daily News.* We heard from four fine Daily News writers — Debi Licklider, Howard Gensler, Jonathan Takiff and Dan Gross. Here are some of the great pitching tips they let us in on:
Recognize the Value of Pitching. In class, we focus a lot on press releases and tend to skim over pitching. Dan informed us that pitching is a key skill to have, and a well-crafted pitch is more valuable to him than a lengthy press release. If they’re interested, they’ll ask for that extra information.
Get Personal. As PR people (especially at the intern level), we can get caught in the monotony of making follow-up calls to long lists of journalists. We get so stuck on getting the calls done that we forget to make our pitches personal. Something as little as a one-sentence note to personalize an e-mail goes much further than we think. So take the extra time and make the effort to create a relationsihp.
Know the Publication You’re Pitching. This should be a no-brainer, but we often end up pitching so many publications that we don’t have time to read them all. Debi stressed that we should focus our pitches on a few key publications. Know those publications and their audiences well, and you’re on your way to getting covered.
[On a local note – never pitch the same story to the Inquirer and Daily News. If one paper prints the story before the other, you’ve wasted the writer’s time and damaged your own reputation.]
Start from the Bottom up. Know the value of pitching to columnists and beat writers first. If they shoot down your story idea, then you can go to the editor with another pitch. But if you start with the editor, there isn’t much room for a second chance. Know what each targeted writer is interested in and appeal to that interest when you pitch.
Now you’re ready – practice your skills, take this advice – then go forth and pitch!
*Special thanks to the Daily News staff- you guys were great!