I received these tips today through Journalists Speak Out (a free weekly e-newsletter) and wanted to pass them on immediately.
“The best advice I can give to a PR person pitching a story is to get a good idea of the process we go through to get stories through the editorial team in-house,” says William Newcott , features editor at AARP the Magazine. “It’s different for everybody, but you need to know what happens after you sell us on a pitch so we can take the idea further behind the scenes.”
Here are Newcott’s 5 hot tips for nonprofit media relations:
1. Know your story details before pitching the press.
“I worked at the National Enquirer for ten years,” shares Newcott. “Even they never took a step beyond what the Cancer Society or whomever said in a study. Make sure you have all of the facts on-hand and back them up with details instead of just pitching the overview,” he advises.
2. Don’t push too hard.
Newcott’s advice: “Think like a journalist. Keep your presentation balanced and answer the basic questions for us before we ask them. Don’t use words like, ‘best’ or ‘fastest.’ We reject those ideas because our readers will stop trusting us if we go overboard.”
3. Don’t pitch from your nonprofit’s perspective, think like a journalist or editor. Put yourself in the editor’s shoes—pitch headlines and decks, not clients.
Newcott advises, “Think what the headline might be for the publication you’re pitching. Do my job for me. Put that headline in your subject line and use the same kind of language we run on our covers.”
4. Know your target’s demographics, habits and preferences.
“Since we target an [older] group of readers, we’re interested in things like quality of life stories. ‘Live longer’ stories rank much lower for our readers, says Newcott, than ‘live pain-free,’” he adds."
5. Freelancers can be backdoors to coverage.
“We work exclusively with freelancers,” Newcott says. “Look at the freelancers your target (let’s say a magazine) is using and reach out to them. You could be just as successful landing coverage this way, as freelancers know what we want, and how to position the story.”