For this week’s Austin Take, I’ve summarized the top five takeaways from a recent @PRSAAustin event that featured a panel of top Austin reporters discussing what they consider the most effective methods of communications. The insightful panel included Tara Doolittle, the Viewpoints editor for the Austin American-Statesman; Erin Quinn-Kong, the editor-in-chief of Austin Monthly and the editorial director of Austin Monthly, Austin HOME and austinmonthly.com; and Haley Cihock, Executive Producer for KXAN.
Each panelist was very generous with their time and gave those attending some invaluable insights into regional pitching.
- When pitching local outlets, make sure to explain why it’s relevant to that particular pub vs. others in the area.
- Follow up! Everyone said they get up to 500 emails a day and they can’t answer all of them. However, if you follow up, they usually take the time respond.
- Get to know the reporter’s personal interest either by reading their reports, reviewing their personalities on social media, or simply asking them for coffee.
- Consider each of the outlets channels a different opportunity. Just because the story doesn’t get in print or on-air, doesn’t mean it won’t fit online.
- Be specific in the subject line and include a timeline if possible, i.e. Governor speaking at charity event in Austin today at 3pm.
And finally, I’m including a couple of tips specific to each individual that might come in handy when pitching.
- Tara Doolittle, Austin American-Statesman: Don’t call, she never answers her phone. She also let us know that while Statesman reporters are working on daily news, they are also required to work on several evergreen stories to run during holiday periods when they are short-staffed like Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break
- Erin Quinn-Kong, Austin Monthly: They work months in advance, so take a look at the editorial calendar to find out the topics and be specific with your pitching
- Haley Cihock, KXAN: If you have a visual story, pitch the photographers – they are in pitch meetings and like to come to the table with ideas.
Even though these tips come from Austin-based reporters, many of the tips and lessons can be applied to most U.S. media. Do you have any other tips on pitching local reporters that you have found work well? Let us know @LPP_PR