Do’s and Don’ts of Online PR

By Lori Turner-Wilson

The digital age is a double-edged sword for those pitching content in hopes of landing the coveted story. On one hand, it’s never been easier to communicate with reporters, but on the other there’s so much clutter that breaking through all of the noise competing with your story has grown quite challenging.

Follow this guide to the “dos” and “don’ts” of PR pitching to ensure a return on your time investment and to avoid the decimation of your media relationships.

The Do’s: Most journalists get dozens to hundreds of pitches a week, which is why you must first build a relationship if your pitch is going to get a second look.

Ideally, make your first contact with a journalist an introduction versus a pitch. If it must be a pitch, at least add a personal note – perhaps referencing a story he or she recently developed that caught your eye. Demonstrate that you understand the beats the reporter covers along with the writing style employed and the preferred story angle.

Consider pitching more than a journalist’s inbox to help you stand out from the crowd. Leverage social media as a communication touch point by building online rapport with a reporter before making a pitch. Social media is also an exceptional tool for conducting pre-pitch research into the topics a particular reporter is covering and their schedule of events.

Describe why the story is newsworthy and why the publication’s readers in particular would be interested. Explain your value proposition – how you will help this journalist secure interviews and additional research.

If you are pitching your CEO as a subject-matter expert, consider including a link to another high-caliber, non-competitive publication that demonstrates the value your CEO’s base of knowledge will provide.

The Don’ts: Don’t call or email a reporter after 4 on Friday. Few journalists are looking for new stories at the tail end of the week.

Never send out a pitch with typos. One typo can immediately send a signal to a serious writer that you’re less than professional and of little value to them.

Don’t make the subject line of your email a dissertation. Keep it short (one line), descriptive, catchy and clear. Never bury the lead at the end of your release. State it up front. You must capture a reporter’s attention in the first few lines. Most reporters are looking for something exclusive. If they know from your “Dear Journalist” intro that they are one of many receiving your release, you know just exactly where your email is going to get filed. That’s not to say press releases are dead; just use them sparingly and include a personal note.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (