The digital revolution makes media pitching easier (sometimes)

Yes, journalists and bloggers are bombarded by more pitches than ever.

Yes, mainstream outlets are consolidating and shrinking.

But the digital revolution is also making pitching EASIER in some ways, if you know how to adapt to it.

For example, one of the biggest complaints I used to hear from reporters was this:

“Oh, I hate it when I publish/air a story on a topic, and then I’m inundated with calls from PR people pushing their sources on that topic. Duh, I already did the story, it’s too late!”

But now, with continuously updated web versions, it’s not too late.

Consider this slick maneuver by Ashley Rodriguez of Fish Consulting. She attended my Pitching Boot Camp in DC in May and was kind enough to send in her success story.

Ashley represents a franchise smoothie company and is fortunate to have a CEO client who is willing to speak out on timely issues. During the chatter around New York state raising its minimum wage for fast food workers, she was shopping him around.

Ashley noticed a piece on from a reporter she hadn’t pitched yet. She couldn’t find his email address anywhere, so she tweeted at him:

“Saw ur MSNBC story on $15 min wage. Are u looking 2 talk 2 CEOs or small biz owners on how it will affect their biz?”

He responded that no, he wasn’t returning to the issue, but she could send him a comment from such people and he would consider adding it to the existing piece, and included his email address.

A few hours later, a quote from Ashley’s CEO client appeared in the story.

Now, let’s not all run out and wantonly pitch sources for previously published stories. It’s important to note what Ashley did NOT do in this case, and what you shouldn’t do either:

1. Don’t scold the journalist/blogger for not including your source in the first place. You wouldn’t do this on purpose, but sometimes just saying, “You didn’t have anyone on the other side of the issue” makes you look like a whiner rather than a helpful resource.

2. Don’t suggest the same type of source and/or the same type of opinion as what’s already contained in the piece. Ashley’s CEO fit into the story because the other sources cited were politically oriented and he gave the business perspective.

3. Don’t act entitled to inclusion. Ashley’s inquiry about a future story is a good model to follow so that you come across as constructive and not critical.

4. Don’t delay. She reached him within hours of the story posting – much longer and he would have likely been far enough along on other projects to not return to it. Not to mention, most of the traffic that piece would have ever received would have already happened.

Overall takeaway – it can be easy to get frustrated by the rapid changes in our business that make things more challenging for you. But let’s look for NEW opportunities those changes open up, too.

And btw: the email formula for most employees at NBC-owned publishers is “[email protected]

One more thing: I’m apparently now old enough to be a “throwback.” Here’s my interview with PRSA for their #ThrowbackThursday series where they feature “a prominent, successful PR pro taking a look back.”

P.S. Ashley’s firm, Fish Consulting, has a really smart biz model – they focus on serving franchises. They know that’s their specialty and are okay with not landing other types of business. This allowed them to build deep expertise and connections in that one market. If you have a small- to mid-sized agency, focusing like this can be scary at first but will pay off down the road.

This article was originally published on August 6, 2015

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