Would your pitches be more effective if you knew up front what a reporter does (and does not) cover, whether she prefers email or phone pitches, and how she takes her coffee?
Of course they would.
That’s the goal of Pitching Notes
, a new website devoted to aggregating important information about journalists in an effort to create in-depth pitching profiles accessible by anyone, free of charge.
As the name suggests, Pitching Notes describes itself as the “free service where members can share their reporter experiences with other PR professionals.” Registration is quick and easy, but make sure to check your spam folder for the verification email. Once registered, users have the option of creating reporter profiles. I took a few minutes to fill one out, and the process was quick and seamless.
Rate a reporter out of five stars in four main categories: responsiveness, professionalism, amicability, and overall rating. Include a blurb about your interaction with the journalist, and, voilà, the pitching profile is complete. Other PR pros can search reporter profiles directly or by filtering lists by most recent, highest rated (out of five stars), or most popular (based on number of profile views).
Pitching Notes has a few other worthwhile features, including the option to “favorite” certain reporter profiles and even compare multiple reporters side by side. Users can vote profile comments up or down, which co-founder Jeannie Clary told me in an email could be converted to a Reddit-like system in which the comments perceived to be most useful rise to the top.
To maintain an elevated level of discourse and avoid becoming a complaining ground for disgruntled PR folks, the site has a “report abuse” feature, though Clary stressed that negative reviews can have just as much benefit as positive ones.
Perhaps Pitching Notes’ biggest strength is its simplicity. The easy-to-use interface combined with detailed, user-submitted information could make Pitching Notes a powerful tool for the public relations industry.
But the site has a long way to go before it becomes a go-to resource; as I write this, only eight new reporter profiles have been created this month. And how does the site expect to compete with big guns like Vocus and Cision? By not competing.
“We don’t see Pitching Notes as a competitor to services like Vocus and Cision,” said Clary. “Pitching Notes is meant to provide another resource to people who work with the media. In a way, the notes are an introduction to the journalist.”
So what incentive does a PR pro have to share this knowledge with the rest of the PR community and not keep it for him/herself?
The answer, straight from the site:
“By sharing our notes and knowledge, we can improve our pitching techniques and make more targeted pitches. With better pitching, we can raise our industry to a new level of excellence. And if we raise the bar, reporters have less of a reason to be wary of our industry, meaning better opportunities for our clients or companies.”
It’s a lofty goal, but one worthy of the effort.
Andrew Cross is a Chicago-based public relations professional with Walker Sands Communications and a contributing writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @Andrew_R_Cross.