Know Who You Pitch

by Cheryl on March 13, 2012

I was speaking to a national legal news reporter yesterday about his coverage for a well-known business publication.  He was complaining about an in-house PR professional who followed up on a news release she sent about a management change at her firm. When this person followed up with the reporter, she inquired about his interest in this ‘news.’ The reporter laughed as he told me the story that she should have ‘known better.’  He meant that she must not read what he writes or understand his coverage of the legal industry. If she did, she may have just sent the release and not followed up.

This situation illustrates the importance of knowing the audience, and in this case actually reading the stories written by the people we pitch.   If a reporter does feature trend stories or in-depth interviews of legal luminaries, there is wasted time in sending news releases or pitching stories that are not of interest to this reporter, or their beat.   It is true for reporters who cover celebrity trials or SCOTUS.  Unless your news or pitch is relevant to the beat of the reporter or you can make a connection between your news and the beat, you are wasting your time.

The reporter who told me this story yesterday as he explained that he deleted the email from the PR professional.  But, what I realized is he might have also liked to delete this person’s phone number from his Outlook too.    Not only was the news release trash, the PR professional’s reputation was in the dumps as well.

In many ways its just like any lawyers practice specialty – if a client calls and needs help on a deal, calling a labor & employment attorney and expecting them to be able to do the work is wrong. The expectation, of course, is that the labor & employment lawyer would refer the client to a corporate colleague, but don’t expect a reporter to put your PR professional in touch with the right reporter; it’s never going to happen.

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