Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts on Pitching Stories to the Press

Media saavy commercial district managers know how to turn their good work into free press. And free press for your district beats paid advertising any day. The Commercial District Advisor turns to Anat Gerstein, of Anat Gerstein Inc., to help us learn how to effectively pitch stories to the press.

Anat's firm serves the non-profit sector, and she recently moderated a panel discussion on how to get the press to cover your story. Panelists included Fernanda Santos from the New York Times, Beth Fertig from WNYC Radio, Gail Robinson from Gotham Gazette, and Shannon Troetel from NY1 News. The workshop was sponsored by the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee and hosted by the New York Times. Here are some of the do's and don'ts discussed by the panelists:

  • Give reporters a heads up about upcoming events so they can plan accordingly  
  • Have clients/real people available to discuss the issue (they want to hear from these people more than they want to hear from the Executive Director)  
  • Your homework! Make sure you know what the reporters cover and how they cover it before you pitch and tailor your pitch to fit the reporters needs, not your own! Click here for a simple guide on creating a targeted media list
  • Provide a background for the story. Location isn't only important for TV stories, its also important for radio and print reporters like Fernanda Santos who want to get a broader understanding of the story and the people
  • Follow up only to ask if the reporter received your email
  • Pitch old news  
  • Call when reporters are on deadline (usually the late afternoons and early evenings)
You can find more tips on pitching the press here. For daily communications news and tips for non-profits, follow Anat on Twitter @anatgerstein

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