Pitching stories to the media is among the most fundamental skills a PR pro should master. There are a number of articles about how to craft a pitch—and the many pitfalls—but there’s little in the way of when to pitch a reporter. I reached out to a few journalists to see what they said about the timing of a PR pitch.
First thing in the morning
Nearly every reporter I contacted said they are more likely to respond to pitches when they are sent bright and early.
“The best time to pitch to me is early morning so whenever I open mail, I will see it,” says Karon Gibson, producer and host of Outspoken TV. “Especially on our live shows; it give us more advance notice than later in the day. If we receive something later, we may not get it on the air in time.”
Jennifer Austin, a veteran journalist for The Post Register, agrees that timing is everything. “Usually the morning is best,” she says. “In the morning, we’re looking for copy for the next day. If you wait until afternoon, our newspaper is already filled.”
Austin says that although she sometimes checks her mail on the evenings and weekends, if isn’t breaking news she’ll leave it for Monday morning. By then it may be buried under the weekend’s emails and she might miss it. So, hold off on pitching if the material can wait until Tuesday morning.
Sunup to sundown on social media
Menachem Wecker, a reporter for U.S. News & World Report, responds to pitches at all hours if they’re via social networks. “I’m most likely to be able to handle a pitch during regular business hours, because that’s when I’m at my desk,” he says, “but if the pitch is on Twitter or Facebook, then it’s fine around the clock.”
Before editorial meetings
“I know I liked to have the information before our morning editorial meetings at 9:30 a.m.,” says former television reporter Randy Simons. “It’s nice to get it in this early so the press release can be discussed at the meeting. Traditionally after the meeting, minds are made up and it’s tougher to get something new added to the list of coverage unless of course it’s breaking news.”
The reporters added some other personal tips for all the media pitchers out there.
Austin says that building relationships with reporters will come in handy for a time-sensitive pitch. “Sometimes we are covering a story late in the evening and may not get that pitch until mid-morning or afternoon,” she explains. “That is why it is best to make friends with your local reporters. If you can get on their radar, it’s easier to send a text or email along the lines of: ‘Jen, I have this great idea. Can you look at it when you get a moment?'”
Send the pitch to both the reporter and editor
Send press releases to the reporters and the news desk. If the reporter is busy, there’s still a chance the editor might assign it to someone else.
Ask the reporter
Sometimes, proper timing of pitching depends on the reporter. If you’re frequently pitching to the same reporters, ask when they prefer their pitch blasts.
Content over timing
For all journalists, timing doesn’t matter nearly as much as what is in the release. If the release is good enough, then media will take note no matter when it is sent out.