Interview with a Pitcher Edition 2: Learning the Art of Media Relations from DCI’s Pros
September 6, 2016
DCI’s newest blog series, “Interview with a Pitcher,” aims to give valuable media relations insight on pitching the press, directly from the mouths of our team members who are talking with reporters almost every day. Here, DCI team members 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 share some of our best practices and can help you refine your own style when it comes to this important part of a successful public relations program.
Edition #2: Rachel Deloffre, Account Manager
Since joining DCI’s economic development team in Denver in 2011, Rachel has managed a full roster of clients– ranging from handling media relations for the Port of Long Beach and City of Salinas in California to launching a new brand, website and marketing strategy for the region of Northern Colorado. Rachel graduated from Northern Arizona University with dual degrees in public relations, advertising and French.
How long have you been a media pitcher, and what is your favorite part of interacting with the press?
I’ve been a media pitcher since 2009. My favorite part of interacting with the press is helping them with a story while also helping our clients garner much-desired coverage. It feels mutually beneficial.
How do you approach pitch-writing for news stories versus in-market press trips versus desk-side appointments?
News stories are the most straight forward in my opinion. I prefer to lead in with timely news and then tell the press why they should care. For taking clients to major media markets like New York or Chicago, I start by telling the reporter who our client is; then asking the reporter if he or she wants to meet; then I explain the specific pitch angle. I take the same approach for press tours we host in our client markets.
How do decide who to approach with your story idea – an editor or a reporter or a contributor?
I decide who to pitch at an outlet based on their past coverage, not their title. Once I’ve identified the outlet, I’ll search key words or topics within the outlet’s site to see who is writing within that story area. For example, I may search on issues like workforce development or diversity, or sectors like life sciences or manufacturing.
What is your go-to method to grab his or her attention to your story idea?
To grab someone’s attention quickly, I’ll use a clever or interesting intro statement that paints a picture of something newsworthy.
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?
Always clarify deadlines and write out dates completely. For example, instead of just saying “Monday,” I’ll say “Monday, August 22nd.” Clarifying time zones in our business is highly important, too.
How can a media pitcher best re-utilize the relationships they or their coworkers have built with reporters?
I think continuing to approach reporters with new ideas, following their work closely, and maybe even complimenting them on the work they’ve done – whether you’re pitching them at that moment or not – is the best approach. In the same way that we like to know that our work is being read, they like to know theirs is, too, so pitching reporters whose work you like is a great place to invest your time.
How do you ensure your economic development message is received and understood in your pitches?
Using data can be the best way to help tell an economic development story. Look for opportunities to weave in a program or statistic from your region, but including national data trends on jobs, unemployment, salaries, market fluctuations, etc. really makes your pitch nationally relevant.
Short and sweet v. robust and thorough?
It depends on the story being pitched and your relationship with the reporter.
Attachments v. no attachments?
Bold fonts or no bold fonts?
A little bit of bold, but not too much.
Call in the AM or the PM?
Any suggestions on pitching the press and maintaining the relationships you’ve built with them? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your comments below or tweet us @aboutdci.