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"Exclusives aren't attractive" and other media relations tips from a tech journalist

Last week, Walker Sands sat in on a Skype call with CMSWire reporter, Dom Nicastro, who shared some valuable advice about media relations. Dom has a great relationship with Walker Sands and was especially kind and helpful. Although all reporters and publications differ, his insight is applicable to media relations as a practice. Here are a few of his tips that can be applied when pitching all types of news outlets:

Timing

  • Monday-Wednesday are ideal days to pitch timely news, and Thursday and Friday can be good for Thought Leadership pitches. Surprisingly, Dom doesn’t hate pitches sent on Thursday or Friday. Since he is often looking toward next week’s stories around that time, sending a pitch later in the week is a good time to catch him.
  • Early morning is better than afternoon to send pitches. By the afternoon, he and most other reporters are already writing stories and on deadline.
  • Late fall and early winter is a good time to get on reporters’ radar for stories like 2016 predictions and holiday pitches. Holiday pitching shouldn’t extend past the week after Thanksgiving.
  • An editorial calendar often mirrors the school calendar – reporters are busiest in the winter and fall. Summer is a slower time for publications, and as a result, is a good time for features.
  • Journalists generally write two stories a day, and stories usually take one to two weeks to publish.

Subject line preferences

  • Eye-catching words: digital experience, web CMS, marketing tech, enterprise collaboration tools and enterprise software. The lesson here is to study and understand a reporter’s beat, and speak to their preferences.
  • Having the word “EXPERT:” in subject line doesn’t make a difference – content catches his attention more than capitalized words. The word expert may seem too robotic. Media relations should be organic.
  • Dom is more likely to open an email sooner if it says “STUDY” rather than “DATA” in the subject line for client reports. While this is a personal preference, it may be beneficial to A/B test subject lines to learn what works best.
  • According to Dom, journalists may also be turned off when a pitch is so urgent that it is a one day opportunity. Unless it’s breaking news, do your due diligence to educate reporters early and often, and present a complete, packaged story in your pitch.
  • Although exclusives aren’t attractive to Dom, he does find the timeliness of acquisition announcements intriguing.

Final tips

Surprisingly, Dom does not mind receiving emails that may have been “blasted” to several reporters; however, the subject line can make a difference. If you’re offering data to more than one journalist at the same publication, copy all of the reporters on an email so they know who has access to the data and can plan accordingly. A good follow-up pitch is always appreciated and understood, as it’s a necessary part of all of our jobs and is a solid reminder to reporters who might not have seen the first email.

We should keep in mind that Dom is a particularly kind and understanding journalist, but his advice and knowledge of the “other side” is helpful as we navigate the field of media relations. At the end of the day, we all have a job to do, so being conscious of others’ deadlines and preferences is essential. So, good luck and pitch away!

Do you have any other advice for effective media relations? Tweet us @WalkerSands