Reporters need ideas from you to write their stories. But there is a right way and a wrong way to pitch your story.
Here are a few tips on what not to do so you can get free publicity. Don’t even think of breaking these rules if you want to get published.
1. Don’t assume they have all the time in the world to talk to you. They don’t. They are always busy.
2. Don’t assume they want to hear new pitches. Some columnists create their own ideas and don’t want to hear pitches.
3. Don’t pitch off topic. Do your homework to know which reporters cover your topic and are a good fit for your story.
4. Don’t threaten reporters with pulling your advertising. Reporters don’t care if you advertise with the publication or are best friends with the publisher. They want info their readers care about.
5. Don’t interrupt them on deadline. Since you don’t know their deadline, always ask if this is a good time to talk. If it isn’t, ask them when you can call back.
6. Don’t run on and on with your story idea. Pause and ask them if they are interested, if they want more info or if they have questions. That shows respect.
7. Don’t pitch them the same feature story idea they just wrote about. In most cases, they are done with that story for a while. If you are pitching on a breaking news story, they could be interested in info for a follow-up story.
8. Don’t offer an exclusive. You could probably do more harm to yourself than good.
9. Don’t be ignorant. Read the reporters recent articles so you know what they write about and can comment on those articles. That shows a great deal of respect and that can open doors for you.
10. Don’t be unprepared. Think of the questions reporters will ask and have a ready answer. You want to sound as prepared and professional as possible. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and consider the likely questions. If the reporter still asks a question you can’t answer, tell her you’ll get back to her promptly – and then do so.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a better chance of being quoted in newspapers and magazines, as well at TV and radio.