Tips On Pitching To Avoid That Jaded Journalist

Pro PR Tips - Public Relations Advice from a Jaded JournalistI’m not a PR person. I never claimed to be. I’m a marketer through & through, but I’m finding that it’s really hard to simply segment yourself off into a specific profession. In the age of communication, a marketer can no longer be just that. And I’ve been learning all about that at my current job.

But I think it all started when I read Brian Solis‘ latest book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations where I found it quite informative although I felt I would never pitch someone or be involved in any public relation type work, but soon enough, I’ve been thrust into this area getting in contact with people of influence and also in the media. All without the training afforded to one in  school. While it seems pretty straight-forward, I’ve always been wondering what people in the press/media think about the pitches that they receive – do they really work that great or is it through the work of a good relationship that stories get written? Well now a member of the press has highlighted what works and what doesn’t.

Pro PR Tips: Public Relations Advice from a Jaded Journalist was written by CNET’s WebWare writer Rafe Needleman. After receiving a series of “interesting” pitches, Needleman became a bit fed up and compiled a list of tips on a blog that many could consider a resource for PR pitches. While not fully in detail filled with examples, what Pro PR Tips does have is a great and succinct way of getting the point across.

The book is so neatly arranged that you’re going to be able to see tips according to a variety of needs. You start off by getting tips on the basics of public relations, then Needleman offers insights on building relationships, phone ettiquette, emails, product marketing, embargoes/NDAs, pitches and, ultimately, demos.

Here are some interesting tips taken from Needleman’s book Pro PR Tips:

  • Tip #3: Search First: Before you personally pitch me, take the time to find out if I’ve written about your company before.
  • Tip #16: Not BFFs: We didn’t “work together” back in 1999. You pitched me. It was beautiful, but don’t make it more than it is.
  • Tip #17: Tweet me: Twitter pitch? Ok, but direct only, and provide a link and reply email in the tweet.
  • Tip #18: IM not impressed: A pitch on IM? Ugh. At least make sure I want to hear it before you start. Better yet: Email.
  • Tip #32: Follow-up: If you talk to me on the phone and I ask you to follow up by email, do so immediately, while our call is still on my mind.
  • Tip #46: Subject matters: Unless you want it to be all I read, make sure your email subject line gets your point across.
  • Tip #67: Presumptive NDA: If you send an unsolicited email with an embargoed press release in it, we consider that fair game to cover immediately. Get your NDAs agreed to before you send them.

The above tips were taken from Pro PR Tips and you can read the rest of the 100 tips on his Pro PR Tips blog or by buying the book.

Sure you might have read other PR-type books, but the perspective that this book takes – from the mind of the journalist – really gives you an understanding on how to better build your relationship. I think that if you’re wanting to begin any relationship with journalists or members of the media, then you need to read Needleman’s book. Why? Because you’re not going to get any more candid advice from a journalist than this – short of them actually reviewing your specific pitch, that is (which most likely just won’t happen). No longer will you need to worry about wondering whether your PR efforts will work…just read these 100 tips and you’ll have a great understanding on what it takes to reach a journalist.

You can buy Rafe Needleman’s book Pro PR Tips on Lulu by clicking here.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."