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The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching an Exclusive

Alex Huber

For public relations professionals, receiving a newsworthy piece of information from a client is exciting. That excitement however, is often tempered by expectations, both from your boss and from your client. There are different philosophies about pitching interesting client news, however if the news is big enough, offering a media exclusive is a good way to go.  Before you begin the process, however, it is important to remember what to do and what not to do.

Do make sure it is newsworthy

Take a step back from your piece of news and evaluate it with a discerning eye. Is this piece of news actually interesting? Is it a piece of news that will stand on its own? After this is determined, make sure that both the outlet and the contact you plan to reach out to are the correct targets. Reaching out to the wrong people is a surefire way to deteriorate any working relationship you may have developed.  Once you clear this hurdle, you can start developing a plan.

Do make sure you are on the same page

Coordinate internally with your team to develop the best plan of attack. Once your plan is fully established, lay it out step by step for your client. The client is likely to have an opinion about what outlets to reach out to as well as the timeline for outreach. As always, it is best to keep the lines of communication open.

Do be careful and realistic

Simply offering an exclusive does not guarantee a glowing feature in your client’s dream outlet. In fact, an exclusive can sometimes kill your story. To prevent this, confirm, confirm and confirm again. Speak with the reporter on a regular basis and confirm every detail, even the little ones. By conducting these conversations via email instead of over the phone, you will be able to keep a record of your correspondence – just in case. Ultimately, keep both you and your client’s expectations within reason and be thorough in your outreach and follow up.

Don’t be Dishonest

This point may seem obvious but it is worth noting. During the process of offering an exclusive, make sure that you are actually giving the scoop to one contact. Make sure you and your teammates are in agreement so you are not crossing any wires. If your piece of news breaks in a different outlet when you had promised the exclusive to a different contact, you can consider your relationships with that reporter finished.

Don’t be discouraged

Even if you or your client’s top choice passed on the opportunity, there is no reason to feel hopeless. Reach out to another publication or reporter. There are many great outlets out there that want to write about your client’s news. Stay focused and move on to your second or third choice.

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind the next time you consider offering an exclusive. As long as you follow these best practices, your exclusive is sure to offer results that will appease your client as well as yourself.