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Back to School for Your Utility

image credit: ID 120139947 © Artur Szczybylo |

With kids of all sizes heading back to school either now or in the next couple weeks, it’s a good time to get back to basics.

I’ve written all sorts of columns about pitching techniques, but perhaps a review of the fundamentals is on order.

For example, send your pitches early in the day. Journalists are least likely to be busy then and might read your email or take your call then and there. Once deadlines start approaching, your chances shrink greatly unless there’s hot breaking news.

Keep your pitches brief and try to be clever — you have little time to make a good impression.

Meantime, connect with the right people. Don’t randomly select a journalist. Ideally, you have a thorough, recently updated contact list that will guide you to people who’ve covered the utility before. Once you have the right person, make sure you pitch them in a manner they favor. Some journalists prefer email, others still take calls, while others (especially younger ones) are most comfortable on social media.

Don’t forget to check a publication’s editorial calendar. Often, there are themed “special sections” where your pitches may carry extra weight. In addition, the bar for coverage is frequently lower in those sections, which are driven by advertising.

Of course, check to see whether the publication has written something similar to what you’re pitching in recent years. Don’t bother promoting something — or something similar — that’s already been covered.

When it comes to pitching, think outside the box. Yes, the Wall Street Journal and the local daily may be top targets, but there are plenty of small outlets to consider, too, and the bar for coverage again is lower. Remember that a good public relations campaign is about getting media placements in multiple spots.

Also consider other options than just a standard article or news segment. Writing an op-ed, for example, is a chance for your utility to discuss an important topic at length and showcase your expertise.

Finally, when dealing with the media, don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Journalists need access to key people at your utility, as well as visual opportunities. If you become the “boy who cried wolf,” you’ll find your attempts at future stories rebuffed.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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