Thursday, February 29, 2024

If Father Christmas was a journalist which list would you be on? By Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR

Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR, helps you prepare to pitch the media.

According to my research, you better watch out.

I am also reliably informed from my network of sources that you better not cry.

Don’t even think about pouting.

The reason for these tips?

Simple, Santa Claus is on a deadline.

Of course, being a diligent type, he’s making a list and doubtless will be checking it twice.

Clearly, this will then help him discover who’s been naughty or nice

Because as you might have realised, Santa Claus is on a deadline.

Now, deconstruction of favourite Christmas tunes aside, which list do you think you’d be on if you were really honest about the way you pitch the media and deal with reporters? That is assuming that you do actually do this of course.

I realise that to many people, the very notion of “reaching out” to the media is right up there with sticking pins in their eyes or watching another HILARIOUS episode of “Mrs Brown’s Boys” whilst forcing down another mince pie.

However, for those brave souls who might be planning to pitch the media as part of their marketing new year’s resolutions, or for anyone who might need a refresher after a “challenging” year of less than stellar pitching, here’s how to make the Nice list and avoid the Naughty list.

  1. Have a list

Stands to reason, right? There’s no point attempting to run a PR campaign, even if it is just a one-off, without a target list of IDEAL reporters/media that your audience follows.

  1. Check that list (more than twice)

Just because it is ideal to you does not mean you are ideal to them. Can you genuinely add value to the reporter and their audience/s? If so, there is a win/win.

  1. Learn what they want

Not every reporter works to the same deadlines and many work for a huge range of different titles. Some will only want exclusives, some want quick comments.

  1. Check how they want to be pitched

Twitter/X is a goldmine for this. Most reporters prefer an email NOT a phone call. Some prefer a DM and will openly ask for them having opened them for a pitching window.

  1. Answer the question/be useful

Journalists are not there to advertise your business or build your profile, they are there to entertain, educate and inform their audience. Help them do that and you will do well.

  1. Don’t try and wangle the angle

There’s a fine line between opportunism and just being…well, you know. If a reporter is seeking comment on X, don’t pitch them Y. If they want to hear about NEW products, don’t pitch them something old or that has been out a few months. NEWs – the clue is in the word.

  1. Check the requirements

If the reporter says that they NEED a case study or stats, it isn’t a whim, it is a prerequisite. Don’t waste their time pitching your angle if you can’t meet their needs.

  1. Meet the deadline

Nothing will irritate a reporter more than uncovering a great story or handy comment and then being delayed by dawdling from the business. Be sure that you CAN meet the deadline and the wordcount BEFORE you promise you can.

  1. Picture the scene

A lot of media opportunities will at least need a “head shot” of the person quoted. Make sure you have some professional pics that are high resolution and don’t lurk under a whacking great company logo. You can send the logo pic (worth a crack) but always have the safe back up.

PS don’t send a pic of you on holiday or cropped from a group shot. We can tell.

  1. Don’t b*gger off

Be available in case the reporter needs extra info. Sometimes it is just clarification or they might want more from you. If they get your “out of office” reply or go to your voicemail it is highly likely they will move on.

If you are around but ONLY for them, make that clear when you pitch.

So, looking at those tips, which list would you be on if you assessed yourself on your efforts in 2023 or if you were thinking about pitching the media in 2024?

If you need a hand getting on the Nice list, just leave a mince pie and a glass of something nice in my inbox.


A former business journalist, Greg Simpson is the author of The Small Business Guide to PR and has been recognised as one of the UK’s top 5 PR consultants, having set up Press for Attention PR in 2008.

He has worked for FTSE 100 firms, charities and start-ups and conducted press conferences with Sir Richard Branson and James Caan. His background ensures a deep understanding of every facet of a successful PR campaign – from a journalist’s, client’s, and consultant’s perspective.

See this column in the December issue of East Midlands Business Link Magazine here.

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