Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Pitching Tips from Washington, D.C. Assignment Editors

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

3/13/12 Know your subject, know the outlet you are trying to pitch and its audience, and have some “news” sense—that was the message from four of Washington’s top editors to over 100 public relations professionals attending PRSA-NCC’s “Meet the Assignment Editors” workshop at the Navy Memorial. Shown in picture are Lois Dyer, CBS News; moderator Danny Selnick, Business Wire; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal; Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post; and Lisa Matthews, Associated Press.

Keep it simple and to the point and avoid jargon. This sage advice from Washington, DC assignment editors should not come as a shock to most seasoned PR pros, but listening to the panel at the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA-NCC) March 13 event, you might be surprised.

The panel was moderated by Danny Selnick, Business Wire, and featured  Lisa Matthews, Associated Press, planning editor; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal, assistant ,managing editor; Lois Dyer, CBS News Network, futures editorand Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post, deputy political editor

Platforms for Pitching

  • Email: All of the panelists agreed email is the best format for pitching them. They suggested using a short subject line that highlights the story. They do not like it when the main subject is hidden and hate pitches that start with “A great story idea for you.”
  • Voicemail: Ginsberg does not check his voicemail, but Dyer does. Most said they would respond to your email or voicemail if they were interested (and sometimes if they were not), so the follow-up “Did you get my email?” call is often not needed. If you don’t hear from them, a call with a fresh reminder of the subject in a day or two is acceptable.
  • Twitter: Twitter can be an effective way to pitch your story according to Ginsberg. He said all the Post reporters are on Twitter most-of-the-time, and you can learn about their needs from their tweets. You should consider becoming an expert on Twitter for the subject(s) you pitch most often.
  • Multi-Channels: All panelists reminded the audience they have multiple platforms to fill with content. For example, the Washington Post is not just the print paper, but several websites and apps. Matthews says all the AP reporters write and shoot their own stories for various sites and platforms.  

Top Pitching Tips:
The PRSA-NCC audience actively shared many tips and highlights of the event. I’ve created a Storify of some of the top tweets and posts.


  • Know your audience (the media outlet’s audience) – Sinha stressed the Washington Business Journal covers only local business news. They do not care about national stories.
  • Respect deadlines – Sinha also hates pitches coming in right before her Wednesday afternoon deadline for the print edition. Early Friday afternoon is an ideal time to pitch her.
  • Know what you are pitching and have answers for questions.
  • Give the editor or reporter access to your client (spokesperson). Offer experts who can speak around issues of breaking news
  • Include current contact information on the release.
  • Think about and pitch stories for future happenings or trends.
  • Understand the need and provide visuals which can enhance the story – Both Matthews and Dyer confirmed outside video content is only used in extreme cases, where there is no other place to get the footage.

Do Not  

  • Send pitches to someone else in the newsroom if you are turned-down by the editor.
  • Send multiple separate emails.(However, it is OK to copy relevant reporters on a pitch).
  • Say you just got coverage in a competitor’s publication
  • Sound like a commercial, you can bet your pitch or press release will be deleted.

Want more tips on writing effective messages and pitches? Check out the latest BurrellesLuce Newsletter: Writing Effective Messages – 5 Timeless Tips. And be sure to share your hints for contacting editors with  BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

My Own Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Campaign

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

If you are following me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Plaxo, you know I have been training for the Avon Breast Cancer 2-Day Walk, which took place this past weekend in Washington, DC. I only decided to do the walk a couple months ago. This gave me a short period of time to raise the $1,800 required to walk. Using ideas from other successful word-of-mouth cause campaigns, I put together a plan.

My goals:

  • Raise at least $1,800 for breast cancer help and research.
  • To help a great cause. Set a secondary goal of raising $2,220.
  • Gain encouragement and support for the actual walk.

My tactics:

  • Create an e-mail campaign.
  • Start and continually update a blog on my Avon Breast Cancer Walk personal page.
  • Issue consistent messages on all social mediums I use.
  • Create a Facebook group to encourage support.
  • Post a link and interface application on my Facebook home page with updates and easy links to the Avon walk.
  • Make the walk a part my everyday conversations with friends, colleagues and acquaintances. (My off-line message was consistent with my on-line message.)


The success story:

  • I exceeded my goal and raised $2,310. I have been asked by some friends if they can still donate.
  • The Facebook event prompted 14 people to say, “They would attend.” Six of them donated to the walk and three came and cheered this weekend.
  • Nine friends wrote on my Facebook event wall, prior to the event, and four of them donated funds.
  • I had three return tweets, the day of the event, offering encouragement.
  • Fifteen friends made positive posts on my Facebook wall during the weekend of the walk.
  • Two of my LinkedIn connections were prompted by my status updates to ask how they could donate to the cause.
  • At least four donations came from casual conversations with friends and colleagues at BurrellesLuce.

I found social media to be very useful to helping me raise awareness for a great cause. How are you using social media to promote your causes?