Last week, right before the Memorial Day weekend, I issued a challenge – and offered a bounty – to subscribers to my weekly pitching tips emails.
Here’s the contrarian logic that encourages pitching on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend:
The conventional wisdom is to avoid this time because reporters and editors are either taking off early or cramming to get work done so they CAN take off early.So that means they are fielding way fewer PR calls and emails than usual. And that’s why it can be a particularly fruitful time for YOU.
I encouraged my subscribers to pitch on Friday afternoon and let me know the results. And I promised to randomly choose one of the intrepid souls who took me up on it and award the winner a whopping $50 gift card.
Of the 19 people who emailed me back, eight of them got responses Friday afternoon. That’s a higher percentage than I would have anticipated, and higher than the typical response rate of the average PR pro I work with.
Three placed stories that have already run. Shawn Robinson at the University of Dayton earned coverage on ESPN.com, which was extra-timely because the thrust of the piece debunked a negative article in his local paper earlier in the week.
Two others earned commitments for upcoming stories. Matt Stubbs at Mix PR wasn’t sure if his entry would “count” because he was pitching a Bloomberg reporter in England. But then he found that Monday was a holiday there, too. He called her, or, as the Brits say, “rang her” at 3:45 pm her time, and she picked up and ended up agreeing to interview his client.
Audrey Glasby of MountainStar Healthcare wrote that she took the challenge as motivation to reach out to a key reporter. Audrey had a solid conversation with her about what she likes to cover, why she didn’t cover Audrey’s most recent pitch. And then she agreed to cover a different pitch Audrey shared – interviews happening this week. “Worked like a charm!,” Audrey wrote.
Three more pitching pros got “maybes,” including one from a WSJ writer who hadn't been picking up his phone all week. Finally, one ambitious pro got a “no thanks,” but I’m calling that a success for the purposes of this experiment because it was from a Today producer.
Ten other pros sent email pitches, most of them to a single journalist, and got nothing back. One of them, Mark Daly, wrote that he’s had “great luck pitching on the day before a holiday period,” including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
There was only one instance where the Friday-afternoon approach seemed to outright backfire. One valiant phoned eight contacts in vain and only then got one on the phone. In digging deeper as to why, the two of us decided that that key difference here was that she was pitching only trade media. Our assumption is that these types of journalists keep more traditional hours than their business and consumer media colleagues and are more likely to take off early prior to the holiday.
Pitching consumer, business, and general-interest media on the Friday before a long weekend is advantageous, particularly when targeting outlets and individuals who post a high volume of content. But this approach doesn’t seem to work for pitching trade media exclusively.
Remember, the premise isn’t that journalists are always working when other people are taking off. The premise is that those who ARE working are “experiencing a low volume of calls” and are more likely to answer their phone and/or read and respond to email. To hedge your bets and account for those who are out of the office, be sure to pitch multiple targets to increase your odds of finding those at their desks.
Congratulations to the winner of the random drawing, Katie Matheus of RAD Strategies. Your gift card is on its way.
More pitching insights like these:
I’ll be sharing everything I’ve got on fine-tuning your customized media outreach and coming up with newsworthy angles at my Media Pitching Bootcamp in NYC in two weeks – this one usually sells out but we have a few seats still available. You can stay an extra day to learn how to identify your best targets and get on their good side BEFORE pitching them – that’s covered in my Building Relationships Workshop.
This article was originally published on May 29, 2014
(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)