I have been huge fan of HARO since I discovered it several years ago—these three-time-a-day emails are chock-full of valuable queries from journalists and opportunities just waiting to be secured! These queries have helped me to build new relationships with top tier media members, land huge opportunities for clients, and have definitely helped to get me out of a few tight spots with agency partners.
While these queries present an amazing opportunity for you and your clients, there a few missteps that can quickly land you in hot water with the journalist, the media, and potentially the query platform itself.
Below are four questions that will guide you on how to pitch and what to ask before hitting send on that perfect pitch to keep your client and your media relationships on the up and up:
1. Does my client really fit this journalist’s need?
Journalists who are using query services to find their sources are typically running up against a tight deadline. They are looking for qualified experts who are available and ready to talk five minutes ago.
Ask yourself: Does my client really fit what this journalist is looking for in a source?
If the answer is no, then do not offer your client. It can be tempting to pitch anyway especially when it’s a major outlet or an outlet that your client would love to be in. You can definitely offer a different perspective on a topic, but beware of completely off-topic pitches.
2. The query is marked anonymous—should I pitch it anyway?
I have a few professional colleagues who swear that the anonymous queries are where the big fish are hiding. This might be true and has definitely proven accurate in some of my experiences, but not always. And, even if it is a major outlet, it still might not be right for your client. Take three minutes and Google the contact name listed on the query—even if the outlet is anonymous there is often a contact name. This will help you determine the outlet or at least narrow it down to a few possibilities.
3. Would I pitch this publication for my client had I not seen this query?
I love setting up interviews for my clients, and I have definitely fallen prey to this mistake. The topic might be so right for your client but if the outlet is not a good fit, take a step back.
4. Will my client do the interview?
So you’ve checked out the media outlet and you know your client is a perfect fit for the journalist but the question now is whether your client will do the interview if you secure the opportunity … If the topic is questionable or if your client has pushed back on these types of opportunities in the past, take 5 minutes to call and run the opportunity by him or her before you pitch.
Do you have more advice for PR professionals when pitching media queries? Share below!