A Top Editor Explains What To Do Right When Pitching The Media
One great thing about the internet is that, if you missed something the first time around, it’s often still out there, just waiting for you to stumble across it.
That happened for me just recently with an article about public relations that Jim Pavia, the Money Editor for CNBC digital, wrote more than a year ago. The article, headlined “Hey PR folks: Keep your eye on the ball,” grabbed my attention because it was about the relationship between the news media and PR professionals, and also because (slight brag here) it heaped praise on Miguel Casellas-Gil, our senior public relations manager, holding him up as an example of how things are done right.
I missed the article the first time around, but was grateful to discover it now – even if belatedly – for a couple of reasons. Obviously, it’s nice to see one of our team members recognized for his hard work and professionalism, so there is that.
But I was also taken with the fact that what this editor says he wants from someone pitching a story idea mirrors the tips I’ve shared for years in my PR Insider and our company’s approach to the media. It was exciting to see our process validated by the Money Editor at CNBC digital!
So, let’s take a look at a few points Jim Pavia made, and see how they translate into steps you can take when you’re pitching to the media:
- Provide a relevant pitch with a news hook. Jim described the pitch Miguel sent to him as “direct and relevant to my area of news coverage. Additionally, it had a unique news hook.” Anytime you can connect your pitch to something happening in the news – whether it’s a new law, a recently released study or poll, an upcoming holiday or anything else – you increase your odds of success. Beyond that, if you can provide the media with insights or an angle they aren’t getting from others, then you become gold in their eyes.
- Be timely with your responses. After receiving Miguel’s pitch on a Thursday afternoon, the editor asked for a guest column written by our client. Here’s what he wrote in part about Miguel’s response: “Within 30 minutes or so, Miguel confirmed a guest column could be turned around quickly for me. He assured me I would have it the first thing Friday morning… The column was emailed to me as promised and we posted it on the CNBC site around 10:30 a.m. on Friday.” As you can see, Miguel gave the editor what he needed in less than 24 hours. People who work in the media have deadlines – often even tighter than this one – and if you can’t get them what they need, when they need it, they will find someone else who can.
- Focus on the media’s needs, not yours. Jim wrote that Miguel “did not pester me with other clients he could send my way. He didn’t push any other story pitches on me during this exchange. He simply focused on the task at hand and got the job done.” I’m not sure I have ever put it just the way Jim Pavia did here, but what he wrote does touch on a bit of advice I always offer people seeking publicity. You increase the odds of being successful when you think about the media’s needs rather than yours. They want useful and interesting information to keep their audiences tuned in; they have no particular desire to publicize you or your business. But give them what they want, and you end up getting that publicity anyway!
So much of what Jim wrote resonates with me because it links to a philosophy I’ve had with my company from the beginning. We’ve always taken the view that we essentially serve two clients – the one who’s paying us to get publicity, obviously, but also the media themselves. By helping to make the media’s job as easy as possible, we’re serving their needs, increasing the likelihood that they will be inclined to continue working with us.
“I get what PR people need to do,” Jim wrote. “I understand the pressures of your job. However, I think PR people need to understand and appreciate the pressures reporters and editors face each and every day as well. Deadlines and the never-ending battle with time.”
That’s great advice worth keeping in mind not only for PR professionals, but for anyone who’s seeking media coverage to promote their personal or company brands.
Eyes on the ball!
P.S. If you want professional advice on getting the most out of your publicity efforts, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 0.