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How the Digital Revolution Is Making Pitching Easier — Sometimes

Yes, journalists and bloggers are bombarded by more pitches than ever.

Yes, mainstream outlets are consolidating and shrinking.

But the digital revolution also is making pitching easier in some ways, if you know how to adapt to it.

For example, one of the biggest complaints I used to hear from reporters was this:

“Oh, I hate it when I publish/air a story on a topic, and then I’m inundated with calls from PR people pushing their sources on that topic. It’s too late!”

But now, with continuously updated web versions, it’s not too late.

Consider this pitch by Ashley, who attended my workshop and was kind enough to send in her success story.

Ashley represented a franchise smoothie company and is fortunate to have a CEO client who was willing to speak out on timely issues. During the conversation around raising the minimum wage for fast-food workers, she thought he could add some important points.

Ashley noticed a piece on MSNBC.com from a reporter she hadn’t pitched yet. She couldn’t find his email address anywhere, so she tweeted at him:

“Saw ur MSNBC story on $15 min wage. Are u looking 2 talk 2 CEOs or small biz owners on how it will affect their biz?”

He responded that no, he wasn’t returning to the issue, but she could send him a comment from such people and he would consider adding it to the existing piece, and included his email address.

A few hours later, a quote from Ashley’s CEO client appeared in the story.

Now let’s not all run out and wantonly pitch sources for previously published stories. It’s important to note what Ashley did NOT do in this case, and what you shouldn’t do either:

  1. Don’t scold the journalist/blogger for not including your source in the first place. You wouldn’t do this on purpose, but sometimes just saying, “You didn’t have anyone on the other side of the issue,” makes you look like a complainer rather than a helpful resource.
  2. Don’t suggest the same type of source and/or the same type of opinion as what’s already contained in the piece. Ashley’s CEO fit into the story because the other sources cited were politically oriented and he gave the business perspective.
  3. Don’t act entitled to inclusion. Ashley’s inquiry about a future story is a good model to follow so that you come across as constructive and not critical.
  4. Don’t delay. She reached him within hours of the story posting — much longer and he would likely have been far enough along on other projects to not return to it. Not to mention, most of the traffic that piece would ever have received would already have happened.

Overall takeaway — it can be easy to get frustrated by the rapid changes in our business that make things more challenging for you. But let’s look for NEW opportunities those changes open up too.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch.” 

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Michael Smart

2 Comments

  • I appreciate this unique perspective! With our digital world constantly developing, most opinions pertaining to pitching are negative. Part of a PR professional’s job is to find ways to adapt to changes and make it work to your advantage. Ashley did a great job of this!

  • I really enjoyed this article because it is useful to me as a developing PR professional. I think there is a lot of great advice in here that does not come across as overwhelming. I specifically think the “Don’t delay” point is really important since so many young professionals are afraid to step on toes.

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