National Press Club

Advice for Communicators: Know who you’re hitting before making a pitch

September 20, 2017 | By Andy Fisher |

Former National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane provided Club members with tips on pitching reporters and editors.

At Wednesday’s regular Communicator Breakfasts, she noted people often miss two fundamental points:

· Know what the publication you’re pitching covers.

· Know what the journalist you’re pitching does.

Almost daily she receives pitches that have nothing to do with what her staff covers.

After that, to start a success pitch, have a relevant email subject line (or attention grabber if using another contact method) then “tell me the news right off the bat,” said Greiling Keane, adding that a pitch should be kept short. Reporters get hundreds of emails a day. She says she gets 600. So to get through all that “figure out the best way to contact journalists you want to reach” and “understand the best and worst times of day to contact journalists.” For many reporters this is not late in the work day. She emphasized the importance of getting to know journalists who cover what you do. This substantially decreases the chances that your pitch gets lost in the daily overload of information.

Other points included:

· Properly address the pitch. (With a name; don’t start too casually.)

· Don’t make promises you can’t keep (such as offering someone for an interview who is not available).

· Follow journalists on Twitter to get a sense of what they care about.

· Offer exclusives when you can. (But be prepared for the wrath of the recipient’s competitors.)

· Be timely. The day after breaking news is too late.

Greiling Keane is the Deputy Technology Editor at PoliticoPro and was the 2013 President of the National Press Club.

Communicator Breakfasts are regular professional development sessions offered to Club members by the Communications Team.