How to pitch U.S. media outlets

Ahh…the song and dance of pitching US media outlets

The media landscape seems to be changing on a daily basis with lay-offs, reorgs, and everything in between. Much like the rest of the world, the US is experiencing a dramatic digitalization when it comes to media and how it is consumed, and for us PR folk, there has been quite a gear shift in how we do our job. Clients still want to see their names in print, but it’s our job to shift their perceptions, and most importantly, their expectations. 

Freelancer = PR’s best friend

While the editorial departments of most major dailies are shrinking or playing an ongoing round of musical chairs, we’ve come to find that freelancers hold the key to our treasure. Our US media lists include more freelancers than ever before (and when in a bind, they’re the first we’ll call), so make nice with some freelancers as they get to exercise much more liberty with their time and editorial calendars (and can say yes to more opportunities that hold others back, e.g. the iron-clad no-press-trip-rule by most major US dailies).

Bloggers are journalists too, you know

Somewhere along the line, bloggers got a bad rap and clients convinced themselves these self-proclaimed writers were not worthy of the “journalist” title. Wrong! Bloggers are as legitimate as it gets when it comes to that third-party endorsement that could make or break a brand. Americans tend to be more trusting of bloggers too, due in part to their no-BS approach. It’s no surprise that a blogger with his heart on his sleeve is a more reliable source than just your average news site.

Influence is next to godliness

It’s not only about making sure every editor under the sun has your press release in his hands, but also making sure those social media “influencers” are in the know too. Whether his covetable following is on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, one mention of your brand to his universe is truly invaluable, and this practice is quickly becoming a regular occurrence in how brand buzz circulates in the US. Do the homework as to who’s the best fit and plan thoughtful outreach that will intrigue and entice him.

Sure, you can take me to Kathmandu, but it’ll cost you

Gone are the days when a round-trip ticket and first-hand access to a new gadget were all you needed to woo a US journalist. Instead they pose us with, “how will you make it worth my while?” Welcome to the age of going the extra mile. Whether it’s packing a decadent travel itinerary or offering no-holds-barred access to a new product or event, PR pros have to up the ante if they really want to get some special coverage. 

Save a tree and amuse me

With 2013 having now come to a close, you’d think digital press kits would be a given, but we still find ourselves having to remind clients that investing in these is the only way to go. But before you make a bulk purchase at Office Depot, creativity is a necessary ingredient. A US journalist is grateful to receive a jump drive regardless, but managing to present a digital press kit in a new and unassuming way is the quirky ingenuity that may just set apart your earth-shattering news from the other guy’s.