written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Ann Baker
In an earlier article I wrote about deadlines and why it’s bad form – or even a total waste of time – to submit a pitch after a journalist’s deadline. But here’s an even better rule you should adopt with regard to deadlines: Don’t miss them, beat them. By a mile, if you can.
Staying on top of journalist queries issued by HARO can definitely be a drain on your schedule. It takes some time to read through them and make matches for your business. HARO emails come out three times a day: morning, noon, and night. Kind of a pain to stop what you’re doing right then and there and read all the listings, then respond to any that are a fit. Impossible if you’re in a meeting or stuck in a conference call.
Some do-it-yourself-PR business owners save time by looking only at opportunities that have been stuck under one predefined HARO category or another. OK, so that’s better than a poke in the eye, but what about those golden PR leads that sometimes fit you like a glove but have been put into a different category for whatever reason?
Others save HARO reviews until the end of the day, or retrieve and look at them every few days, or – let’s be honest – skip some of those HARO emails altogether. They look at them hit and miss.
On top of this, many will set aside a lead with a long deadline to answer it later, when they have time.
This is a mistake. Remember that whenever a lead is posted on HARO, it’s likely posted on other notification systems too, like profnet, the paid service used by almost all PR agencies, and other free services like Pitchrate, Reporter Connection, and Flacklist. You’re going to have a lot of competition out there.
So, if you don’t have budget for a PR service that will search through all of these sources for you and send you the PR leads that match, and you’re limiting yourself to just a few free services, or more commonly, only HARO, then do as diligent as you can in reviewing each set of notices as soon as it comes out. And make it a practice to be Johnny-on-the-spot when you find those golden opportunities – PR queries that announce a journalist’s need to talk to someone just like you.
The best prepared will have written multiple ‘pitch templates’ ahead of time, each with a different slant, that they can use to help them get started with their pitch. (But beware of cookie cutter syndrome. Do take an extra five minutes to tailor the pitch to the reporter’s interest.) Others learn to embrace simplicity when it comes to pitching under stress, making their pitch short and ultra focused. (The deadline is, after all, more important than your ability to be witty, charming and brilliant.)
Whatever it is you need to do to make the pitching process quick and efficient, do it. If you’re the first to pounce on a pitch, you’re winning that race already. The journalist will see your pitch. Now all that’s left is the beauty contest – the reporter likes how your pitch looks.