HY Connect Senior Account Executive, Michael Grimm recently participated in The Publicity Club of Chicago’s “speed pitching” event on Thursday, May 5. The professional development workshop provided access to six (6) trusted, top-tier local journalists and other members of the press. As newsrooms continue to shrink while the number of local PR professionals grow; the workshop was designed to highlight the most efficient and effective methods of capturing a reporter’s attention to land the perfect pitch.
Here are Michael’s key takeaways from speaking with top reporters: Ashok Selvam, Senior Editor at Eater Chicago, Blanca Rios, Producer at WLS-TV, Cheryl V. Jackson, Contributing Writer at the Chicago Tribune, Deidra White, News Planning Manager at WBBM-TV, Dometi Pongo, News Anchor at WVON Radio and Lizzie Schiffman Tufano, Senior Editor at DNAinfo.com Chicago.
Honesty is Policy
Don’t exaggerate your “news.” Each journalist touched on the annoyance of receiving pitches filled with hyperbole and, at times, blatant lies. This only damages your relationship with the reporter because your email address/name is now connected with dishonest or half-truth information. Stay true to your story and make the effort to find the appropriate media target. If you find yourself misrepresenting the subject line while crafting your pitch, it probably isn’t newsworthy – let it go.
Respect the Inbox
All reporters acknowledged they welcomed receiving follow-up email reminders after an initial pitch. However, nothing destroys interest faster than receiving five follow-up emails from a PR pro in one day, essentially begging them to cover a story. Send the initial pitch, follow up once or twice if there is a development in the story, and then move on for the next pitch.
This is a newer development for the media members participating in the PCC pitch event. Many shared how editors are increasingly asking for visuals to accompany every story. Particularly for TV broadcast and some print publications, a strong visual can make or break your chances of landing a placement. The reporters recommend embedding b-roll hyperlinks or photos in the body of the email as attachments are often ignored and unopened.