How to get better PR: Tips from the media

Want more PR? Here’s how to pitch for it.

PR specialist Mel Jansen asked the pros at four major media outlets for their tips to make your PR pitch stand out. Here’s what they said…

Mikey Cahill

Lifestyle Journalist and Video Content, Herald Sun, News Corp Australia

Always think three emails ahead and supply all info, hi-res pics, links, quotes etc. without having to be asked.

Don’t follow up the next day with ‘Thoughts?’
Wait 4-5 working days before chasing up. That shows patience.

To show it’s not a cut ‘n’ paste job.

Kiel Egging

Reporter – General News/Entertainment, Leader Community News, News Corp Australia

Stay local.
Only target the publication most local to what you’re promoting. An event in Frankston or an interview with a guy who lives in Northcote is not going to be front-page news in Sunbury.

Cliché pics. No thanks!
Don’t suggest or supply a photo involving a novelty cheque or a handshake. They are universally loathed. Come up with something creative that reflects what you’re doing.

Timing is everything.
Give us plenty of notice, but not too much. Two-three weeks out is ideal, and we like to feature stories in the week of the event.

Make it personal.
Find someone who has an amazing back-story to share. It’s so much more interesting and appealing than your standard ‘we are holding our annual fundraiser’ yarn.

Be flexible with photo and interview times.
Our photographers only have certain days and times they’re available. Have a second option up your sleeve. Also, be prepared to do the interview in the same phone call.

Tim Fisher

Editorial Director, Broadsheet

Don’t Spray and Pray.
Having a large database might make you feel confident, but there is absolutely no sense sending a press release to people who aren’t in a position to do anything with it. You are far, far better off sending it to a smaller target group who will actually find your news relevant to them, their work or their audiences.

Sending a press release to hundreds of people means that, at best, you’ll be ignored by most. At worst, it will cause them to view you as a nuisance, and could affect your reputation. Which leads me to…

Research Your Targets.
Before sending a press release – even before writing one – find out which media organisations and individual journalists cover the industry you’re in. Then, spend time reading the kinds of stories they write.

Journalists will genuinely appreciate an email from someone (even a complete stranger) if you can show you understand what they write about and how your email is relevant to them. Don’t be the PR person who sends John Lethlean a press release about frozen take home ready meals (if you work in the food industry and don’t know why that may be a problem, this is exactly what we’re talking about). In short, make sure you…

Consider Your Audience.
Journalists and editors have websites and magazines and airtime to fill, and are looking for stories they think their audience will be interested in. So consider yourself a problem solver. Once you’ve written a press release that contains all the information you want to get across, read it again, through the eyes of the people you’re sending it to. What’s in it for them? Is it an engaging story? Are the most interesting things right up front, and immediately obvious to anyone scanning it quickly? Or do they have to read five paragraphs of background to get to the newsworthiest thing?

Be very clear about what is most interesting about your business or product. What sets you apart from everyone else in the market? What’s your unique selling point? How can they get in touch for more info or imagery? Make sure the answers to these questions are super clear.

Alex Day

Executive Producer, Breakfast, Gold 104.3, Australian Radio Network

Know who you are pitching to.
Simple concept and it only takes five minutes to do some research. Who are the hosts of the show? What is their demographic? What station are they on? How do you spell their names? How do you spell the producer’s name?

Build rapport with the producers.
Meet them in person and ask what works for them and their show; this will help with your pitch. Survey breaks are the best time to do this.

…call to pitch during the show, a big no no.
…go directly to the on-air talent. It will annoy the talent and get the producer offside.
…copy and paste a generic pitch. Always tailor it to that particular show. We know a generic pitch when we see them and it will be deleted.

Make your briefs short and succinct.
Nothing over a couple of sentences/paragraphs.
Get creative. Pitch a couple of ideas that you think will work for that show. It may take a bit longer to prepare, but it will be appreciated.

Follow up with a call.
But not straight away. Give it a couple of days and then ring. Timing is everything – don’t call during the show and don’t call a breakfast producer after 2 pm for a generic pitch – they won’t answer! (Unless you have built a rapport, then you might be in luck.)

For more tips, visit

Mel Jansen

Melbourne Presents