Five Basic Tips for Pitching Media

Pitching a story today? Of course you are. But are you doing it well?

After the jump, Joe Donatelli, L.A.-based journalist, former editor of several men’s sites, and current editor of The Humor Columnist, offers five tips collected from his experiences and those of his colleagues about how best to conduct your outreach. They’re basic, but a reminder never hurts. To these we would only add these pieces of advice for pitching PRNewser:

-Keep it simple. Sometimes a cool picture or one interesting aspect of a campaign is all it takes to grab our attention.

-Please pick one email address and pitch that address only. Sending a note to will suffice. If you want to send a second note a couple of days later just to be sure your email didn’t drown in our inbox, that’s totally fine. Occasionally something does get past us and a quick follow up is actually appreciated.

-Call when it’s important. Want to follow up? No need. Want to make sure I got your email? I got it. Want to see if I need to speak with someone? If I need to, I’ll ask. I’m not shy. We can use email to schedule interviews, or I’ll call you if there’s something that is more easily handled with a quick conversation. The other stuff is just annoying.

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How to pitch: A website editor and his peers share five tips by Joe Donatelli

As a website editor I receive press releases and phone calls from PR pros every day. Some pitches become stories. Most don’t. When Ohio University instructor Dan Farkas invited me to speak to his public relations students, I said yes. Too much time is wasted on PR efforts that miss the mark. Here is a condensed version of my presentation.

1. If I know you, I’m more likely to work with you. And the second I see the story is not a perfect fit for my site I hit delete and sweet dopamine floods my brain.

2. Tell us what’s happening. We’re either chained to our desks editing all day or meeting with SEO gurus and social media whatevers. Kara Newman, who has been published by Reuters and Wine Enthusiast, told me, “The [publicists] who provide the most value to journalists are those who know their industry and can put news into context and know their company/product/client and can provide timely, useful insight and access to resources.”

3. Please don’t hide your client’s PR contact info online like it’s the CEO’s bank pin. Says reporter Dennis Nishi, who has written for the Wall Street Journal and BBC: “In most cases, I’ll just move onto a competitor.”

4. Burden not our inboxes. Advises Slate managing editor Rachael Larimore, “Quit sending me press releases that include 2 MB PDFs attached. That is the surest way to get your name included in my junk mail filter.” Adds Lima (Ohio) News new media editor David Trinko, “Be ready to share photos and videos. We’re desperate in the trenches for content. But link us to them. Don’t send the whole thing.”

5. And the most popular piece of advice I received from my journalist friends? Said editor Julie Raimondi: “Know who you’re writing to and where we work.” Said Newman: “Know the journalists and send the right info to the right people.” In other words, know who we are and what we do. That finger is always hovering over the delete button. Journalists love a good dopamine rush in the morning.