Being a resource means making sure you have a basic understanding of what you are pitching. The good news is that there’s a grain of truth in the media’s preconceptions: too often, the PR people reaching out to reporters and editors—even the experienced ones—really don’t understand the underlying strategies and products they are pitching very well.
Why is that good news? Because it’s not hard to distinguish yourself in this regard by doing a bit of homework. Find a friendly person at your firm—or maybe it’s a friend or relative who works in the industry—that you can talk to and make sure you understand what you are pitching and what makes it interesting/new/differentiated.
You also want to make sure your pitch lines up with the reporter’s coverage beat. Have they written on this topic before? (And if they wrote about it just last week you definitely want to know that too, lest they infer that you don’t necessarily read the latest issue of their beloved Nuclear Decommisioning Trust Gazette cover to cover every week!)
A more subtle nuance is making sure your pitch lines up with their organization’s editorial proposition. I started my career reporting for and then editing an egregiously expensive weekly covering the over-the-counter derivatives markets. The implicit bargain with our readers, who were paying several thousand dollars a year for a subscription, was that they would not already have seen our news anywhere else. That being the case, it was not terribly constructive when a flack (oh yes, I was fluent in the Fourth Estate’s vernacular) called me about the news release they just put out.
Similarly, someone who writes about personal finance for a retail audience probably isn’t focused on breaking news and isn’t going to get very excited about your offer of an exclusive scoop on a new investment product.
By demonstrating your understanding of a reporter’s market, the contours of their own beat and the editorial imperatives they are operating under—and tailoring your approach accordingly—you will build instant credibility.
A few more words of advice: