How to Properly Research a Reporter before You Pitch Them
I’ve always believed that the better you know a reporter, the more effectively you can pitch them. When you truly understand a reporter’s interests, his or her audience, how he or she likes to be pitched, and other important details, you’re better equipped to create a personalized pitch they’ll notice and respond to. And plus, reporters appreciate when you know who the hell they are.
Unfortunately, a lot of people just don’t like to take the time to do the research necessary to get to know reporters better. But it’s an important step, and the success of your PR efforts depends largely upon this task.
The good news is that researching reporters doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It’s something you can do fairly easily and without a whole lot of effort. Here are some tips to help you out:
Read their work—This is really the first and most important step on the list. You need to take your media list, and start looking up the articles written by those reporters. Pay careful attention to what they’ve written about. Obviously, you don’t want to pitch a reporter a story he or she has already written. They have no need or interest in that. What you want to find is gaps in their coverage. What haven’t they written about that’s a good fit for their audience? How can you fulfill that need?
Pay attention to the comments—In addition to reading the stories written by the reporter, you should also pay attention to the comments. See what the readers are talking about. Leave insightful comments of your own. This helps you get to know the reporter’s audience a little better, and it can be a good first step in establishing a relationship with the reporter.
Follow them on social media—The majority of journalists use social media. According to a recent survey, 50 percent of reporters say they use social media “very frequently” for their reporting with an additional 26.7 percent citing their use for reporting as “frequent.” Social media is also where reporters promote their stories and other stories that grab their interest. It’s a great way to learn about a reporter’s interests, and it gives you a good way to interact with them. However, don’t think you can start pitching a reporter via social media. The same survey found that only 2.7 percent of journalists prefer being pitched on social media.
Do some Googling—This is as simple as it gets. Google the reporter’s name and see what comes up. You may find more than just their stories. You might find interviews with the reporter, a personal blog, a detailed biography with interesting info, and all sorts of other stuff that helps you learn more about the reporter.
These are some of my favorite ways to research reporters. What do you do?