5 Things We Learned From the Austin American-Statesman

By Dana Sotoodeh

As PR pros, it’s extremely important to know your local media outlets like the back of your hand. Whether you’re pitching T.V., radio, or print, familiarizing yourself with as many reporters and outlets as possible, is key in moving you forward in your career.

Team Snackbox had the privilege of visiting the Austin American-Statesman and talking with food writer, Addie Broyles, last week. From viewing the newsroom to sitting down with a journalist who is smothered in pitches on a weekly basis, we asked the important questions and found out first hand what to do– and not to do, when it comes to getting a reporters attention.

Team Snackbox presents to you:

The Top 5 things we learned from our Austin American Statesman Tour

1.)  Format matters– Believe it or not, not all reporters read the subject line and make a decision from there. Although a quirky pitch title does catch their attention, the way your pitch is formatted in the body says a lot about you and the subject your pitching. Make sure everything is neatly formatted and easy to read.

2.)  Personalize the pitch- As you may know, journalists get hundreds of pitches on a daily basis. Copy and pasted press releases, however, don’t always guarantee media coverage even if you’re working with a nationally known brand. Addie Broyles told Team Snackbox that personalized pitches are often more appreciated than a pitch that looks like it’s been sent to everyone in the local and national market. Ease into personalizing your pitches by using a general statement such as “ hope all has been well,” or “ hope you had a great holiday!” These small acts of kindness are often a lot more welcoming than the PR pros that don’t take the time to get personal.

3.)  Research your reporter– We’ve heard and read this over and over, but during our Statesman tour, we confirmed it. Doing a simple Twitter or Linked In search on your reporter before pitching can make all the difference in the way your pitch is received. Pitching food to a sports writer? Probably not a good idea. Addie tells us that her email is full of pitches constantly. Do your part by researching and making sure you’re targeting the right reporter before doing so. This saves time for not only your reporter, but for you as well.

4.)  National vs. Local– It’s important to keep your media lists extremely specific to your target audience. Addie told Team Snackbox that she often receives pitches about restaurant openings in other states, cities, etc. Although she is a food writer, her market is mostly Austin-based. If given the option to write about a restaurant in Austin vs. one in Chicago, she will most likely write about the Austin one. Keep your media outlets in mind especially when they are a city-based publication, such as the Statesman.

5.)  Timeliness Matters– You wrote a great pitch. You got a reporters attention. They want to give you coverage. That’s great! There’s not better time than now to be as timely as possible. With journalists and reporters being bombarded with hundreds of stories a week, they want to be able to have reliable contacts. If they have contacted you stating their interest and have requested information, it’s your job, as the PR Pro that you are, to provide the information in the timeliest manner as possible. Addie tells us that it’s comforting to have people who she can count on to provide her with the information she needs, when she needs it–especially when it comes to deadlines.

These 5 tips can make all the difference in the way journalists work with you and receive that pitch you worked so hard on. Keep these small tips in mind when it comes to your next pitch. Take notes on the responses you receive when you incorporate these pointers.  Congrats– you’re on your way to securing coverage!