Bateman Group Media Experts on Breaking Through Crowded Inboxes and Building Relationships

PR professionals have always needed to be savvy and informed when reaching out to reporters — but it’s only becoming more critical to build strong relationships rather than treat pitching as a volume game. According to U.S. Census data, there are now six PR pros for every journalist. In contrast, many publications are understaffed and reporters are more time-strapped than ever. As the dynamics of PR and media change, the expertise of the Bateman Group Media Practice helps us gain insight into reporters’ coverage and come up with new ideas of how our clients could fit in. In particular, the guidance of veteran reporters Elinor Mills (AP, Reuters, CNET, IDG), James Niccolai (former editor at IDG) and Chris Heine (former editor at Adweek) helps us counsel our clients about what will truly grab attention in today’s media landscape.

Whether it’s for pitch-writing advice from a former journalist or an introduction to a reporter or producer, the media practice helps our teams and clients make a bigger impact with storytelling. We asked them to share their advice for standing out to media and sustaining those relationships. Here are their top three tips.

1. Think beyond your pitch.

Get to know reporters beyond your request for coverage. Use every touchpoint to be a helpful resource, even if it won’t directly impact your client. You can start by following reporters on Twitter to get a sense of their interests and personality.

Media Director Katie Garagozzo advises, “The more you understand their motivation, what their editors want, and what they find interesting, the better you’ll be able to give them what they’re looking for.”

2. Spend time on the subject line.

To capture attention among the hundreds or even thousands of notes in a reporter’s inbox, it’s critical that you write a catchy and descriptive subject line.

Elinor Mills, senior VP of content and media strategy, reminds us that every word counts. She suggests that PR pros “focus on the most attention-grabbing information, like dollar figures, recognizable brands, or exclusive news to make your pitch stand out.”  

3. Follow up thoughtfully.

Think of your pitches as a conversation. Brooklyn-based Senior Media Associate Creighton Vance recommends pacing follow-up notes based on the priority of your news item if you don’t get initial feedback from a reporter. An evergreen opportunity only requires a weekly or biweekly note, whereas more pressing news may call for a follow-up email after a day or two.

Above all, be respectful and appreciative of a reporter’s time. Acknowledging their workload and expressing your desire to be helpful to them is more likely to lead to a positive relationship than a transaction would. 

Does the Bateman Group Group Media Practice sound like a place where your talents will thrive? We’re hiring media mavens — and PR pros, writers and strategists — across levels. Apply to join our team in San Francisco, Brooklyn or Portland!