5 Surefire Ways to Get a Reporter’s Attention

pay attention

One of the silver bullets in any flack’s arsenal is the art of getting or earning someone’s attention. After all, it is what we all go angling for on a daily basis. From writing a pitch to commenting on a tweet, we hope that something we do tells our media colleagues, “Hey, look at me!”

Once you get the reporter’s attention, you are halfway to the promised land of a mention, a return phone call an email reply or a Twitter response. Whatever correspondence you receive, the ensuing smiles are all there because of the work you did. But how effective are you at earning that attention in the first place?

If you want to be better at that subtle tactic, this week’s ‘5 Things‘ is for you: Here are 5 surefire ways to get a reporter’s attention.

reporter notebook1. Be Personal. Repeat after me: Cookie-cutter pitches suck. They really don’t work. Customize your pitch to show that you honestly consume your target’s particular product. Show that your pitch would fit within your targeted reporter’s outlet. If you can’t prove you did your work, why would the reporter then do his or her work for you? In short, if you want a pitch to work, show that the pitch was made for that journalist. No one likes sloppy seconds.

2. Be Authentic. If your pitch begins like a used-car salesman’s spiel, you almost certainly won’t close the sale. Instead of asking whether a contact is “well”, assume he/she is and move on to why you’re sending this particular pitch. Show that your content would make a nice fit in a given outlet by discussing previous posts, readers, or even the reporter’s beat/general assignment. Act like you care.

please stand by3. Be Fast. If your pitch contains more than three paragraphs, it is already way too long to be read. Remember, the average journo gets 1,000 pieces of communication daily. If your communication is going to get anyone’s attention, it has to be easily digestible. If the real content of the pitch requires a downward scroll, then the target probably won’t bother.

4. Be Helpful. Do your best to complete the narrative. What you send via email should be a starter kit for a real story. Have all the information in one nice, pre-wrapped package for the reporter. If there are any questions left following the review of your pitch, it should be for follow-up. Leave no questions in your pitch, only answers for why this story will fit for the consumer. Your pitch should serve as an outline, because if you want to help your client, you must help the journalist first.

biting laptop5. Be Specific. There’s nothing worse that repurposing a pitch that doesn’t fit the audience. Your pitch must fit the reporter’s needs and assignment. In short, recycling is great for the environment but hell for a PR pro. Everything you write for a journo should be original, specific, and targeted.

Do that, and they will listen.