Think before you pitch
By Doreen Overstreet
What do freelancers like and dislike about PR pitches? To find some good tips, I contacted local freelancers Sarah Sekula (@wordzilla), Denise Bates Enos, and Katherine Johnson (@katiejwriter).
What is one of the best PR pitches you have gotten?
Best nods would have to go to the PR people who went the extra mile. A few years ago, I was invited by a rep to hear a pitch about production services. Not only did she have a complete and thorough presentation with images, releases and follow-up story ideas, she also added a personal touch. She found out my favorite breakfast and had a chef come in and prepare it during our meeting. An extravagant but personal touch! –Katherine Johnson
What tips would you give PR people on pitching freelancers?
Google the writer. What has he/she written about in the past? Identify publications the freelancer writes for and target pitches accordingly. Check out resources like mediabistro.com (“How to Pitch” section) or writersmarket.com for up-to-date tips on pitching specific pubs. And follow the writer on Twitter to monitor specific story needs or ask to be added to the writer’s e-mail list. I often send out mass e-mails when searching for the right source. Also, let the writer know if you have multimedia available that would add to the story (i.e., audio clips, slideshows, video, timeline, etc). –Sarah Sekula
Make sure you’re on target with your pitch. For example, if I’ve sent out a query looking for holiday decor products, images and information, don’t send me a pitch about a great sound system with the straining-to-fit tie-in like “holiday tunes enhance the decor.” –Denise Bates Enos [Denise asserts she really did get this bad pitch.]
It’s important to stay on top of the changing freelance and publishing landscapes. Whether you pitch to a freelancer you’ve known for years or harvest names from a list, research and update the profiles before sending out the release. Many freelancers change/add specialties or focus on a particular topic during the year. E-mailing to confirm that a freelancer is still accepting pitches, working on a particular topic or still freelances for a particular magazine will save everyone time. Also, find out what freelancers are using social media. I’ve received dozens of worthwhile pitches from people who found my profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Magntize. Another great resource to use is Help A Reporter Out . – Katherine Johnson
Do you have any PR pet peeves?
Don’t “friend” me on Facebook – it’s a social networking site, not a business networking site. That’s what LinkedIn is for. I made the mistake of accepting one of those friend requests, and now I’m pestered with requests to “become a fan” of the PR person’s various clients and their businesses/services. –Denise Bates Enos
Stop sending form pitches. “Dear Editor” or “Dear Writer” has a special place on every freelancer’s computer – the trash can! As soon as I see that line in my email, I delete it. You could be giving an all-expense paid press trip or a free sample and no one would see it. If freelancers can track down the right press rep to contact about a story, then press reps should do the same and find out who they’re e-mailing. My personal pet peeves: incomplete or inaccurate information or trying to find a rep who is unavailable on deadline. Just shoot a quick e-mail and say you will get back in touch by end of the day or refer a freelancer to another rep who is available. –Katherine Johnson