How to Pitch Reporters in the Digital Age

Christy Pittman
Pittman: “It doesn’t matter if your delivery method is a dazzler. If the pitch itself isn’t compelling, it’s not going to fly.”

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What’s the best way to really connect with a reporter? If you attended the recent W2 Communications-hosted event, “Social Media & the Press: How to Build Lasting Relationships,” you’d walk away with a great deal of valuable insight. Here’s what leading journalists taking part had to offer:

Delivery minus substance = zero. Sorry, but Steven Overly of the Washington Post put it bluntly: It doesn’t matter if  your delivery method is a dazzler. If the pitch itself isn’t compelling, it’s not going to fly. “A pitch that I’m not interested in is a pitch I’m not interested in,” he said.

Keep it short. At least at first. An introductory pitch shouldn’t contain large attachments, according to Katie Boehret of the Wall Street Journal. Email is always the best way to go at first, she said, because a reporter can immediately respond if it’s interesting, file it away for a future story or ignore it.

Don’t send what the competition is doing. Reporters are well aware of what their competitors are reporting on. So the “in case you missed it” email featuring a competitor’s work doesn’t really go over well. In fact, it’s disrespectful and can do more harm than good, said Grant Gross, of IDG News Service.

Stay up on social media. Reporters are going to Twitter and Foursquare for sources/leads, according to Matt Barakat, of the Associated Press. So, obviously, a hi tech PR agency should be there to best position clients.

Take advantage of comments. Some reporters read the comments on their articles and see them as a way to determine the direction of the next story, said Wyatt Kash, AOL Government. You can gain influence here.

It’s business and personal. For all of the social media and multiple platforms and bells-and-whistles delivery methods, Gross nicely summarized what really distinguishes effective communications strategies and public relations practices: “There’s untapped potential in social media. But the best PR people still develop personal relationships.”

At W2 Communications, that’s always been our MO as well. If connecting with influential journalists is among your New Year’s resolutions for 2012, feel free to give us a shout.


Christy Pittman is a senior account executive at W2 Communications.