It’s 8 a.m., you’re riding the “L” into work while scrolling through the Wall Street Journal app, and you come across an article addressing an issue that is squarely in your client’s wheelhouse. As a PR pro, it doesn’t get any better! This is a golden opportunity to leverage a current issue or trend to position your client in Tier 1 media. Enter the reactive pitch.
Your first instinct might be to fire off an email to that WSJ reporter, but I would urge you to reconsider. After all, every PR person in the world with a somewhat relevant angle to that story is – at that minute – hammering the reporter’s inbox. So what do you do?
It’s time to get old-school up in this piece: You pick up the phone.
Of course, before you do that, some research is in order. It’s possible that the WSJ reporter will follow up on the story with another angle your client can speak to, but for that to work out, your angle would need to be super relevant, super timely, and potentially groundbreaking.
Instead, try to get a unique piece of coverage that can stand on its own. Start with a quick search on tools like Cision or Tech News – or at the very least, Google News – and see who else covers your client’s space at Tier 1 outlets. Select the best contact at each and give them a call. All you need to say is:
“You might have seen this morning’s WSJ story on X – if you’re working on a similar story and need sources, my client, X, is ready to speak on the record at your convenience.”
That’s all there is to it! If it’s a breaking news story with trend-setting potential in your client’s industry, this strategy will work. But be forewarned – you need to move fast.
It’s a race against time, because with every second that passes, the odds of other PR folks catching on and contacting the same reporter increases – which means your odds of placing the story decreases. If your first choice passes, go to the next reporter down the line until you get a hit.
But what if you’re too late? This will quickly become apparent during the research process if you see that most Tier 1 outlets have already picked up the story. All you can do here is be creative and offer up that new, trend-setting angle your client can offer.
Finally – follow up. A lot can happen during a reporter’s day, so they might not hear your initial voicemail. So follow up with an email after your call, and give it a day before calling again. Don’t be discouraged – most successful placements are the product of well-timed follow-up and leveraging positive media relationships.
Reactive pitches are a win-win. Even if a completed placement doesn’t pan out, it’s a great opportunity to build your Tier 1 media network. That means that next time news breaks, reporters will be calling *you* to speak with your client.