Many journalists will agree to a quick informational phone call with new marketing leaders, if you respectfully request it. Let them know the conversation will not run longer than 15 minutes and will be at a time of their convenience, and promise you will not pitch them during that time. You’re seeking information so you can serve them better as a possible source and advertiser.
If you can’t get through, but you already sponsor the publication in question, a gentle nudge from your ad sales rep can help, too.
Here are the best questions to ask during those 15 minutes:
- Is there a particular PR person or firm you respect the most in their field? Whose email or calls would you be most likely to respond to because you know they’ll bring you good stuff? (Never hire a PR firm that’s not vouched for by the press they pitch routinely.)
- Do you or does any member of your team ever freelance for vendors to write white papers or articles for email newsletters? Are any of you ever available as speakers or moderators for vendor user conferences? Obviously, we understand this possible relationship would not affect your other coverage.
- How far out do you begin working on major stories for issues? What are your biggest deadlines? If we wanted to be considered for a quote or as background for a story, by when would we need to contact you if we see something in your editorial calendar coming up?
- What do you see as the hot button stories or areas of coverage that your readership is deeply interested in over the next six months? What’s over, done, dead?
- Do you study which search terms are very popular on your site’s search engine? How about which types of articles get the most clicks and views from your email newsletter? Is that information I could get routinely, say every month or quarter, from my ad sales rep if I’m a client?
- Which bloggers do you pay the most attention to? If you blog, what sorts of items, gossip and otherwise, make useful snippets for you? Do you mind being pitched on possible blog snippets?
- What sort of story or data would you love to get from a source as an exclusive? How about a case study? A tip sheet? Statistical results from a new industry survey? An interview with one of our top clients? Product launch previews? A sample of the product to review?
- What sort of story or information should I just never bother you with?
- Who on the staff should we contact? Should we just send information to one beat reporter in particular?
Note: You may also want to check MarketingSherpa’s extensive library of PR interviews, ranging from BusinessWeek to Women’s Wear Daily. Top journalists reveal exactly how they wish you would pitch them stories. This Members-only resource is available on free trial at: https://www.marketingsherpa.com/memberhome.html
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