Don’t Shoot the Messenger

FGH reached out to reporters to hear their views on best practices when pitching— and boy, did we get them. 

From reporters at the New York Times and POLITICO Playbook to bookers at MSNBC and Fox News, below are direct quotes with some unvarnished insights and advice for pitching your story to the press:

  • Tailor your pitch to the reporter. “Unless you’re offering something very newsworthy, the key is personal relationships (duh!). And if there’s no prior relationship, the pitch needs to be highly tailored to the reporter and their outlet. Generic pitches that look like they were blasted to a list will never be looked at.”
  • Make it exclusive. “Exclusives matter. Don’t waste really good news on a blast email. Reporters see that and sometimes think it’s not worth writing about because it’s a big PR pitch. Come up with a good story and focus on one or a few outlets at first.”
  • Are you being helpful? “With TV, the reporter has a vision and story to tell — is what you’re trying to contribute to them helpful? If not, they’ll move on. Don’t try to make the sell — ask what they’re looking for and see how you could be helpful.”
  • Know who you’re pitching. “I get a lot of bad emails, usually from people who don’t know what I do. The annoying ones are the people who call and are like, did you get my email about the thing you don’t cover?”
  • Write a pitch you’d want to read. “Most of these pitches are boring and they’re badly written and I don’t read them in my email box. Spend some time to make your pitch interesting, to make it news. Or don’t bother.” 
  • Show your passion. “I mean if you don’t care about what you’re pitching, why would a reporter or the public?”

  • Be realistic.“Too many flacks go for home runs. ‘Do a profile on THIS angle of THIS person.’ Never gonna f%$#!## happen. Hit a single. Get your guy quoted.”