Sometimes pitching stories to journalists is like fishing. You drop bait in the water, then wait for something unseen to happen far below the surface. Often you get nary a nibble, but sometimes you land a lunker.
This week, I landed a lunker. A pitch for the Deadwood Chamber turned into a story that appeared online at Country Living, MSN and Yahoo. These sites combined have something like 20 million unique monthly visitors.
At tdg, I use a service called Help A Reporter Out -- a.k.a. HARO. It’s an ingenious way to connect journalists with sources in a way that benefits both. Journalists post queries seeking information, insight or experts to help flesh out a story. The queries go out via email to public relations folks, whose clients are looking for good press. If I see a query that applies to a client, I send a written pitch, with photos and tidbits that might interest the journalist.
I start each morning by going through the HARO queries looking for something I can pitch. There are a lot of queries, and the majority don’t apply to any tdg clients. “Looking for celeb fitness trainers to share ab workouts.” Definitely not in my wheelhouse.
But a month ago, I saw a query seeking “America's Best Small Mountain Towns for Summer.” It was posted by Perri O. Blumberg at Country Living. I sent a pitch that included great reasons to vacation in Deadwood, including its Western history, Spearfish Canyon, the Mickelson Trail and gaming.
Often I never hear back. Sometimes I’m surprised when a story turns up. But this week, Perri was kind enough to send me a note and link to her Country Living story, 20 Small Mountain Towns Perfect for a Summer Vacation. A few days later, MSN and Yahoo picked up with the story.
It’s been my experience that a well-written, on-topic pitch with great photos is crucial when responding to HARO queries. Journalists are busy people with tight deadlines. They probably get hundreds of pitches. I picture them scrolling through pitch after pitch, saying “no, no, no, hell no, probably no …. Wait a minute … ”
I want mine to be the wait-a-minute pitch.