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What do Journalists really want from us?

I’ve often wondered what goes on inside a journalist’s head when I’m pitching my heart out to them over the phone. Are they listening, or are they thinking about what to have for lunch? What does that silence on the other end of the line really mean?

It often feels like my childhood years, waiting for the cool kids to give a nod of approval.

While PR and Journalism are intrinsically linked, there remains a healthy debate over who truly benefits from whom. Good PR can create great content but journalists are ultimately accountable to their audience for what they publish. Therefore, it is a PR pro’s duty to maintain outstanding relationships with journalists & understand their world in complete detail.

With that goal, some of our Sydney Thrivers recently attended a Public Relations Council (PRC) talk with Matt Young from and Chris Wirasinha of Pedestrian TV — two of the nation’s top online media professionals — and were served a reminder of how to ensure you get your nod of approval:

  • Know the publication: Don’t pitch something that doesn’t align with their readers. A client may have their heart set on a particular publication, but they pay us for our expertise. Poorly targeted pitches quickly degrades trust, making it harder to land a pitch next time.

  • Know the journalist: Be familiar with how each news team likes to be contacted. Matt says prefers phone calls, while Chris says Pedestrian responds better to emails (Gen Y’ers are scared of the phone, remember?)

  • Content is global. So announcements/releases must be rolled out at the same time. If something is launching in America for one of your clients (like a video for example), it will only be news if launched in Australia on the same day.

  • Think of your subject line like a news headline – make them want to read your email!

  • Online content gets more hits with an image – so always include strong imagery with your pitch.

  • Commercial content can sometimes be useful – if it is unique & targeted to their audience. But be prepared for them to write whatever they want about it, in their own tone of voice.

  • Don’t be afraid to shoot through a quick email if you think they might be interested in a story. It doesn’t need to be a long-form press release (they don’t read them) but do make sure you include as much info you can, as they won’t chase you up for further info.

  • And finally, never say that a competitor has written about it so therefore they should be interested – it’s a big ‘turn off’, as it shows they are already late to the game.

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