I feel that many who try to obtain any kind of media coverage for their company, organization or personally do not fully understand what it is like to be a journalist or a reporter. And yes, that does include many people who actually work in public relations. I’m not being disrespectful or even bashing those who don’t have the full grasp because it is a fact.
Another fact is that I was one of those people. When I did start in the public relations industry, I had never worked in a newsroom, let alone even wrote an article for any kind of publication. But early on, only because I wasn’t getting paid very much, I decided to work part time for a local newspaper. It was a great experience that I stumbled into. While I was a freelancer, not working in the newsroom, I still got a big wake up call.
I was covering school committees and selectman’s meetings and I had to get the story I was sent there for. That meant at times, being assertive because in some cases, people didn’t want to talk with me. It also meant being selective in what I did cover and trying to get people to understand the news gathering process.
I spent the next decade and a half working in public relations and carrying those lessons with me. But in November 2016, I had the great opportunity to publish my first book with a traditional publisher. My book Overcoming Distractions, Thriving with Adult ADHD took a few months to write and I had to interview many entrepreneurs for the book.
But I also had to go out and search for those stories. I was pitched by many and a fair percentage of those pitches were way off mark. I went out on Twitter and other places and asked specifically for successful adults with ADHD. Most were on target but I got several pitches for products, other services and things like. “I know a guy…” And some kept trying to contact me again and again.
A few takeaways:
I know some, and say SOME reporters can come off as short, abrupt and even sometimes rude. Because they have years of people and in many cases professionals not giving them what they asked for. If as a reporter I need something specific to do a story and you give me something else, that’s not helping a journalist.
If you truly believe you can add something to a potential story, do your best to wrap the proper words around your idea. In my case, I was looking for those in business that were successful. But pitching me on a new line of vitamins or supplements is way off topic.
If however you were a professional such as a business coach that specialized in the area I was writing about, that would in most cases be received in a positive way. Or at the very least, considered.So if I had to say this in a few words it would be, don’t pitch off topic. That goes for journalists seeking experts to interview and that holds true if you are contacting a certain reporter that has a specific beat. If you contact the real estate reporter about your next fundraising event, I’m confident I can tell you what the result will be.