Thursday, September 29, 2016

Philly Tech Media: Pitching Basics Still Relevant Today

By Caitlan McCafferty

Successful public relations professionals know how to work with the media – but have those pitching basics changed in recent years? We caught up with some Philly tech journalists at a recent event to find out.

Hosted by Business Wire, Smart Talk After Hours: Meet the Philly Tech Media offered the opportunity to hear directly from the Philadelphia area’s top technology reporters about the projects they are working on and how to connect with them most effectively. Each of them writes about the burgeoning tech and start-up scene, focusing on innovative businesses in Philadelphia. 

Panelists included:
Michelle Caffrey, Technology and Education reporter at the Philadelphia Business Journal
Roberto Torres, Lead Reporter at Philly
Melony Roy, Social Media Editor at CBS KYW News Radio
Johnathan Takiff, Technology Columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Each spoke about his or her individual writing process and experience with public relations professionals, but they all agreed on a few tips. 

They want an exclusive.  The journalists agreed that they are more likely to run a story if it is an exclusive for them. Every media outlet’s goal is to break the news first, so journalists want to be the first to talk to a particular person or about a certain topic. 

The phone still works. Both Caffrey and Torres spoke about how email pitches aren’t always the most effective method of pitching. Caffrey doesn’t mind a phone call and welcomes any pitch via phone especially if she has a relationship with the PR contact. Torres made things even more personal, and talked about how he prefers in-person pitches. He attends many networking events and doesn’t mind being pulled aside to discuss a potential story. 

Make the pitch to their beat and what they are interested in. Each journalist spoke about the importance of pitching to their interest. For example, don’t pitch a story about a tech company in New York City to Torres. He writes about tech companies in Philadelphia, not New York City. Don’t pitch Takiff a business story; he is interested in consumer experience. Most of the journalists on the panel talked about filing up to four stories a day. They want to hear your pitch, but be sure that it is something for them. 

Follow ups work, but be respectful. The panel spoke about PR Pitch horror stories. Most of them were about PR pros that just wouldn’t leave them alone or didn’t understand why the story wasn’t right for their publication. Follow up reasonably, and if the journalist doesn’t respond after the second or third follow up, they are not interested in your story.

Each journalist’s experience reinforced media relations best practices. If you craft a good pitch, pitch it to the right person, and follow-up appropriately, you have a better chance of being successful. 

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