I’ve been meaning to write something for a while on the topic of how PR people should approach journalists. It’s something I’ve had a lot of thoughts about since I started writing more and more, and getting unsolicited pitches.
[The other thing I’ve noticed as I’ve started writing more and more is that, when I could be getting paid to write, blogging just isn’t that appealing. Lucky for you, for some reason, this afternoon I’m deliriously exhausted and can’t do any real work. For evidence, just see the title above, and this rambling parenthetical. (see, this is the quality of writing you get for free).]
Anyway, a couple of days ago I got a pitch email so beautiful it nearly brought me to tears. I’m just going to take the risk of copying the actual thing rather than anonymizing it too much:
Trucking writers and editors-As apps and online platforms continue to wiggle their way into the industry, today we announced that the ScoopMonkey ratings and review engine is now available for users of the Truck It Smart load board. ScoopMonkey is ratings and reviews written by carriers and brokers, and the integration means easy due diligence for all parties as they seek one another’s services.Press release here, a fancy blog on it here, and a little bit here about who in the heck we are. Any questions, feel free to contact me at the info down there.Best,[PR Dude]
This, if you’re not already aware, goes against almost every convention of how PR professionals are expected to reach out to journalists. BUT IT’S PERFECT. Here’s what it does right.
1) It clearly knows who I am, without being creepy. That greeting – “Trucking writers and editors” – is way better than the fake-friendly “Hi! Just happened to see xyz and thought you might be interested in q ” that is standard issue. It makes it obvious this person knows what I do – but without feeling compelled to pretend they’re my friend.
2) It assumes I know what I’m doing. There’s not a ton of context setting here, just an acknowledgment of a reality in the field of transportation – the rise of apps/gigging. There’s no explanation or extensive background – first, because that’s not the press intros job, and second, because while most journalists are actually rank amateurs at just about everything except putting words on a page (and often that, too), we like to have our egos stroked by having people think we’re actually experts on our beat. Talk to us like we know something!
3) It gets its point across with no bluster or hype. A thing happened. I can probably fill in the context myself.
4) It gives me solid resources for learning more. Sorry, your super-short email can’t be all you write. It’s a morsel. Then link me to the meal.
5) It’s about more than the thing that happened. This is the only spot where maybe one more sentence could have been helpful – but it could have also scuttled the entire thing. You see, gig apps are part of some much larger trends in the industry, and across industries, which make the topic worthy of deeper consideration. The email doesn’t actually broaden out to these issues, but that’s kind of okay, because (to repeat myself) it’s about an actual event relevant to the deeper issues.
This is almost certainly the main point. Not all writers, but at least some (myself included) are looking, more or less, for real events that connect to larger and somewhat more abstract issues. The deal described above isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but it’s still a legitimate reason to write about, not just what happened, but why, and what it means.
If your story doesn’t meet that critieria – or if you can’t convince me that it does in three sentences – please, don’t bother getting in touch.
(And for all those reasons, yes, there is now something in my pipeline related to this brief little email.