News & Views

Interview with a Pitcher Edition 1: Learning the Art of Media Relations from DCI’s Pros

DCI’s newest blog series, “Interview with a Pitcher,” aims to give valuable media relations insight on pitching story ideas to the press, directly from the mouths of our team members who are talking with reporters almost every day. Here, DCI team members will share their experience and thoughts on best practices through thought-provoking interviews, designed to help each of our readers consider their own approach to media relations.

While each pitch and each reporter pitched, requires a customized, strategic and personal approach, these interviews will share some of our best practices and help you refine your own style when it comes to this important part of a successful public relations program.

Edition #1: Sarah Reinecke, Senior Account Executive

Sarah Reinecke DCISarah joined Development Counsellors International in 2013 after working as a business and city council reporter at the Argus Leader, the local newspaper in her hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in print journalism. In addition to proactive media relations work, Sarah has orchestrated events hosting members of the press in DCI client markets, securing dozens of reporters to travel to various client regions for first-hand visits, as well as organized desk-side meetings for our clients with the press in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, to name a few. She has earned coverage for DCI clients in national outlets such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, on CNBC, in The Huffington Post, and many others.

How long have you been a media pitcher, and what is your favorite part of interacting with the press?

I’ve worked at DCI for three years, and have been pitching stories the majority of that time. My favorite part of pitching the press is coming up with memorable, creative stories, timely news hooks and building relationships with the members of the press.

How do you approach pitch-writing for news stories versus in-market press trips versus desk-side appointments?

For proactive pitches you need timely hooks, a creative angle and the right reporter. Press trips call for timely news as well and access to company, and regional spokespeople play a more important “hooking” role. These are written as invites that are shorter in length, and cut even straighter to-the-point – we want to host you on this date.

What is your go-to method to grab his or her attention to your story idea?

It’s less about grabbing their attention and more about seeing if the reporter has time to talk. The goal is to show them you’re not selling them something or bothering them, but helping them with a story of value – helping them do their job. I try to utilize key words on the topic right away before quickly asking if they have a minute to talk or if it’s not a good time.

Do you have any tips on how to avoid miscommunication over email or to remain the most efficient when using email to arrange interviews or follow up?

Repeat the time the interview is taking place and note the time zone. Repeat the phone number as well. Double check to see if the spokesperson is to call the reporter or vice versa. Additionally, send a meeting maker or an Outlook invite with all of the details from your email dialogue, perhaps even just attaching your email dialogue if you had one.

How can a media pitcher best re-utilize the relationships they or their coworkers have built with reporters?

Relationships are key. It’s important to play off of them as much as possible. They’re particularly helpful when setting up desk-side appointments in major markets. For proactive pitching, ask colleagues the best way to pitch the reporters they’ve built relationships with, or even see if they’ll reach out to them on your behalf since there is name recognition. For my own personal relationships, I go back through previous media lists and reach out to see if a reporter would be interested in working together again when I am pitching a story for a different client that might fit their interests.

How do you ensure your economic development messages are received and understood through your media pitches?

It’s important to tell a big-picture story for your client rather than focus on one thing in particular. Share a broad message with key details and more than one spokesperson. Prep these spokespeople by phone with the market’s key messages and your goals for your economic development stories.

Short Takes

Short and sweet vs. robust and thorough?

Short and sweet. 

Attachments vs. no attachments?

Never attachments!

Bold fonts or no bold fonts?

A bit of bold for important messages.

Call in the AM or the PM?

AM

 

Do you have any insights on pitching the press and maintaining the relationships you’ve built with them? We’d love to hear your take. Share your comments below or tweet us @aboutdci.

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