Interview with a Pitcher Edition 3: Learning the Art of Media Relations from DCI’s ProsOctober 26, 2016
DCI’s 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 #3: Keegan Calligar, Account Manager
Keegan joined Development Counsellors International in August 2013, following an internship in DCI’s Economic Development Division in the fall of 2010. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Elon University, where she majored in journalism and minored in business administration. As a dedicated ‘media maven’ in DCI’s New York office, Keegan has built strong relationships with reporters throughout the country. She has secured hundreds of stories on behalf of economic development clients in a variety of top-tier and trade outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, Forbes, CNNMoney, Bloomberg TV, CNBC and more.
How long have you been a media pitcher, and what is your favorite part of interacting with the press?
I’ve been working in PR for six years and have been pitching that whole time. My favorite part of interacting with the press is developing relationships with the reporters. I focus on learning what they’re interested in and then work hard to go back and provide them with valuable information on those topics.
How do you approach pitch-writing for news stories versus in-market press trips versus deskside appointments?
With deskside appointments it’s important to look at what’s most timely – making sure the meeting is on topic with what is on the reporter’s plate right now. In-market press trips should be, and usually are, based on an industry the client feels strongly about and wants to promote – so you have to have a broader case.
How do decide who to approach – an editor, a reporter or a contributor? What’s your strategy once you’ve identified the outlet in which you think the story should be covered?
I decide based on background research. Reading a lot is the key to being able to pitch. Many reporters on Cision have very general subjects listed for what they cover, but after more research you find their beat is actually much more particular. Once I decide who to approach, I write a general pitch first and then go back to tailor it to the individual reporter. Don’t stop or give up, even if the media contact says no. Try asking him or her if there is someone else at that outlet that might be interested in the story.
What is your go-to method to grab his or her attention?
Don’t use a witty or fun subject line; get straight to the point. Be concise while still providing detail. Don’t add fluff – be extremely clear and always keep it short.
Do you have any tips on how to avoid a miscommunication over email or to remain the most efficient when using email to arrange interviews or follow up?
When a reporter indicates interest for an interview, ask for hard deadlines along with the expected angle and when he or she plans on talking with the specific spokesperson about. Have a spokesperson ready to offer (don’t ask them who they want to talk to).
How can a media pitcher best re-utilize the relationships they or their coworkers have built with reporters?
Constantly offer reporters interviews with spokespeople, even if it’s not necessarily related to your client. The reporter will see that you are consistent, and a good resource, and come to you for spokespeople, which gives you the opportunity to provide them with your clients’ spokespeople.
Additionally, don’t be scared to ask reporters for favors. If you have a story you want placed in their particular outlet, ask if they have any colleagues to reach out to that are interested in that beat. Then when you come to their colleague, you can say your media contact recommended you talk to them, which helps add to your credibility.
How do you ensure your economic development messages are received and understood in your pitches?
Lean on your market’s company spokespeople. If you or your client has a good relationship with a company, have a phone call with the company about how to incorporate your place’s message into their own talking points. Look for an opportunity to train them on how to incorporate these place- based messages.
Short and sweet v. robust and thorough?
It depends on the reporter.
Attachments v. no attachments?
Bold fonts or no bold fonts?
No bold fonts, unless it’s an aggressively long pitch. In that case, strategically placed bold font is okay.
Call in the AM or the PM?
It depends, but try calling on Fridays because no one else does.
What pitching inspiration can you take away from PR pro, Keegan? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @aboutdci.