Tips for pitching broadcast media

Tips for pitching broadcast media

A few weeks ago Fusionites had the good fortune of being able to pick the brain of a veteran broadcast journalist during our company wide education session. Our guest was straightforward, honest and humorous about what we were doing right and what we were doing… less right when it came to pitching broadcast media.

For a relatively new PR professional like myself (1 year last month!) this proved to be an invaluable learning experience. We all know the relationships between PR pro’s and journalists can be tense at times,  so hearing what works, what doesn’t work and why straight from our media counterpart is an ideal learning opportunity.

Here are some of the gems I learned during our session and I’d like to thank Kristin for helping me help get the important points across:

  • Thursdays aren’t a good day to pitch broadcasters and journalists. The media are most hungry at the beginning of the week — on Mondays and Tuesdays — so those are the days you should be pitching them. By the time Thursday rolls around, their focus is on delivering the stories the smart PR pro’s pitched on Monday.  And Friday, well we are all worn out by Friday aren’t we?
  • Kristin suggested that if you’re going to pitch, on a Friday, pitch in the morning and tell the journalist “Hey, you may want to consider this for next week…” It might even be worth taking some time to pitch a story on Sunday night so it’s ready for a broadcaster first thing Monday morning.
  • It’s always a good idea to start with the assignment editor or assignment desk if you don’t have a contact at the outlet. They can point you to the right people who cover the right topic that way no one’s time is wasted.
  • The media, including broadcast media, generally favor email pitches. Calling is okay if they are familiar with you, but cold calls were not generally something our guest cared to receive.  Journalists are busy and you’re not going to end up with a friendly voice on the other end of the line.
  • Our guest favored clear and concise subject lines over clever. No bragging, no boasting just short and to the point pitches with the right balance of friendly and professional. Audio files were also encouraged, our guest was in radio!
  • Pitch the bigger story and do your homework. That’s PR 101 right? But still, words to live by.
  • Network and local radio audiences are holding steady. Internet radio and podcasts are well received among audiences and it’s not a medium to be overlooked. (We couldn’t agree more, especially because podcasts are ideal for underground subway riding around here!)
  • Skype audio is gaining popularity with radio producers. The sound quality is better than regular landlines, and everyone know that cell phone interviews are just a no.
  • Strong accents are tough to work with on the radio. I hadn’t considered that even on broadcast, the ability to see someone’s lips helps an audience understand a spokesperson with a strong accent. On radio it’s just not the same – you might get them on the radio once, but probably not again. Like I said, tough.
  • Content is favored over personality or title. Producers want a good interviewee, they don’t care of it’s the president or a lacky. They just want the person to know what they are talking about and have a good radio presence.
  • A spokesperson who “umm’s” and “ahh’s” a lot is difficult to edit. A well trained spokesperson should know to take a pause instead. Better for editing, I get it. Media training. Media training. Media training. Smaller market local stations will deal with less polished interviewees but you’re not going to get far with a major market or national outlet.
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