Picking the Best Journalist for Your Company

25 June, 2013

Know Your Local Media

The likelihood that your Press Release or media pitch will be picked up has everything to do with the journalists you target to receive them.

How do you choose? What do you look for? Selecting the right approach to a targeted journalist will increase the odds that your promotional information will be published.

Where Does One Begin?

First, choose your outlet. If there are various publications in your market, choose those that will reach the highest number of your target audience. Very basically, you can check out each publication’s website for subscriber numbers and distribution area.

Once you have selected the best publications for your goals, the next step is to identify a journalist within the organization that is most closely connected with and interested in the information you are seeking to publish.

This is best achieved by reviewing a few back issues if it’s a print publication or checking out some archival footage or audio clips if it is a television or radio outlet. This exercise will give you a feel for the tone of the publication and help guide you to the journalist or personality that is most congruent with your content.

As an illustrative example, the local newspaper, serving eight counties, has a number of columnists and “beat” writers covering a number of different topics. The term “beat” refers to the topic(s) that a reporter routinely covers. (The term beat harkens back to the dark ages of journalism when a reporter actually had to walk a beat, or geographic area, to troll for news items.)

You’ve Identified a Great Journalist

After you’ve done your homework and gotten a feel for the work of the prominent journalists in your market, review the story you want to get out to the world.

Which of the journalists is the best match for your pitch? Depending on the story, it can be framed in a number of ways. Feel free to write the release or make the pitch based on the aspects of the item that best match the beat and style of your selected journalist. Think outside the box!

For example, suppose your company is sponsoring the Special Olympics competition coming to your city in 2014. Your company became interested in helping with the event when it was brought to your attention that one of your employee’s daughters was a competitor.

From this fact set one could slant the article to appeal to a number of different journalistic beats. First, there’s the human interest aspect. The story will also be of interest to the local sports writer as well as the journalist that covers local community events. Each of these niche journalists may well be intrigued by the story line.

And that’s just a print media example. The same approach applies to whatever media form you are working with, and the discernment process is the same.

The Press Release Made it To Print, Now What?

Congratulations, you have the beginnings of a journalistic relationship that, if cared for, will be of benefit to your company and the journalist you’re working with.

Remember, journalists want good stories. They have column inches to fill, blogs to write, interviews to conduct and programs to air all on deadlines that are tighter than ever. Bring them solid stories with verified facts, photo and video links and the contact information for a couple of experts in the field and you’re golden.

When a journalist receives dozens of pitches every week, the one that contains the “right stuff” will be selected much more often.

Follow these guidelines and ensure that the one chosen will be yours.

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