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What journalists want from your media pitch with Jason Mudd, Axia Public Relations

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: Media pitching success with  show host Jason Mudd episode graphic

In this solocast episode, Jason Mudd discusses what journalists want from your media pitches. 


Tune in to learn more!





Watch the episode here:


Listen to the episode here:

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5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:

  1. What doesn’t help your pitches
  2.  Following up — NO GAS
  3.  Use the phone to tell your story
  4.  Exclusive/advance/embargo — know the difference 
  5.  Key elements to a good pitch

About Jason Mudd

Jason Mudd, APR, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


Clients love Jason’s passion, innovation, candor, commitment, and award-winning team. In an increasingly tech-forward world, Jason’s grasp of technological demands on companies provides his clients in multiple sectors a unique advantage toward reaching their top audiences. After teaching himself HTML in 1994, Jason helped pioneer internet marketing strategies as an early adopter of e-commerce, search engine optimization, and social media, inspiring tech giants like Yahoo.


At Axia, Jason attracts, develops, retains, innovates, and leads top PR talent and clients. He oversees strategic communications for the firm’s national clients and provides high-level consultations to client leadership teams at billion-dollar global brands, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, including spokesperson training, crisis communications management, analytics, social media, online reputation management, and more. He also speaks frequently to corporations and industry groups and writes about public relations trends and best practices for American City Business Journals and other national companies.



  • “Great sales is about helping, not about sales. Great media relations is about helping a reporter uncover a news story that's valuable and interesting that they didn't know about previously.” — @JasonMudd9
  • “People really like people who have confidence and who have a unique, contrarian, and provocative point of view.”  — @JasonMudd9
  • “Improvising is one of the key attributes of being successful in PR.” — @JasonMudd9
  • People care about stories about people. They don’t care about stories about corporations.” — @JasonMudd9


Additional Episode Resources from Axia Public Relations:

Episode Highlights

  • [04:06] Best practices when following up
  • [06:20] NO GAS 
  • [00:00] Pick up the phone and tell your story
  • [21:15] Unique, contrarian, and provocative point and view
  • [33:28] If you want a journalist to love you, do this.

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00:00:00:00 - 00:00:09:29


Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.


00:00:09:29 - 00:00:29:01


Hello, and welcome back to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd. We've got an exciting, solo cast episode for you today. A solo cast is where it's really just you and me, and we're talking about public relations topics, tips and trends that help you in your role as a professional communicator, marketer, or public relations practitioner.


00:00:29:04 - 00:00:52:21


I've what I want to talk to you about today is a LinkedIn post that somebody shared and I thought was, very interesting. from a Bloomberg News reporter. And he was just trying to share more information about how to improve media pitches. And I can't emphasize to you enough that public relations is not just media relations.


00:00:52:21 - 00:01:23:05


It's not just about press releases and earned media coverage. Public relations is so much more than that. And we blog and talk about that a lot on Axia Procom. So please check that out there. I would be happy to do a solo cast about that in the future, but that's not we're here to do today. Today, I just kind of want to walk through some of these recommendations from this Bloomberg Bloomberg reporter, because I think it's very relevant and interesting to have a little conversation as I kind of dissect what he posted.


00:01:23:07 - 00:01:45:01


And for the record, I'm going to have some commentary that may be, provocative, contrarian or unique to what he is sharing here. And I think it's really important that we just kind of keep in mind, the environment that he's working in and the commentary that he's sharing, in this post, which, of course, we'll link to this post and the, the LinkedIn post and the episode notes.


00:01:45:03 - 00:02:08:15


We'll also link to any additional, resources I might mention during the solo cast together. So with that, let's jump right in. And, if you're taking notes, now would be the time to get your notes out. And if you find this interesting, as I'm talking through these things, please be sure to share this episode on your social media or send it directly to a colleague or friend who you think would might benefit from it.


00:02:08:17 - 00:02:29:03


So this Bloomberg News reporter is saying that, he gets about 30 to 40 unsolicited email pitches per day, or just pitches per day. And, he says he looks at them all, but he can't reply to them all. And mostly because some of them are so bad they don't merit a response. He's saying some he holds on to and might use later.


00:02:29:05 - 00:02:51:11


and, you know, he says, and I'll get to the rest of what he says here in just a minute. But first I want to jump right in and tell you that to me. 30 to 40 unsullied, which is a day, does not sound like a lot to me. And I would actually have challenged, him before he posted this to actually do some analysis and really find out how many he gets, because he's doing a range of 30 to 40.


00:02:51:18 - 00:03:19:06


I'd personally love to see about how many he gets on an average day. Now, I have heard from other reporters, at different markets and different levels of kind of, prominence of their news outlet that they might get a hundred, pitches in a single day. And, so, hearing him say 30 to 40 seems what I might say would be normal or or not.


00:03:19:06 - 00:03:39:07


A crazy amount of them. And, you know, he's saying here, I, I promise I read them all. I guarantee he probably does. He probably scans them all. Most journalists, I would think, would look at them all. I've heard some journalists say that, you know, they don't accept pitches. and, I've also heard journalists say, you know, back in the day, I don't check my voicemail and things like that.


00:03:39:07 - 00:03:58:18


Maybe there's some that say they don't check their email, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. well, I'll get into more of those details in just a minute. So, the next thing he says in this same area is what doesn't help your pitches. Half dozen ups when you quote, float this back up, unquote, to the top of my inbox.


00:03:58:18 - 00:04:34:06


And he's saying, don't do that. Well, let me tell you that my additional disagreement here might just be this, that I agree, following up is, following up improperly, unprofessionally, without adding value or additions or background or additional news worthy value to the reporter and their audience is bad. Don't do that. But what you should do is you should have up your sleeve, the anticipation that, hey, this person in the newsroom is very busy.


00:04:34:08 - 00:05:05:23


they're not just sitting around waiting to hear from you in less. They're assigned to be a beat writer for your company. And, oh, by the way, your company is Google. Tesla, Nike, Coca-Cola, Disney, kind of prominence and brand where there's a assigned beat, writers who follow you around, almost like the white House or the president has, you know, a press corps that follows the president around and covers whatever he or she talks about.


00:05:05:25 - 00:05:28:19


So in this particular case, following up is actually something we celebrated Axia because we know from experience, journalists say thank you for following up with me. I wanted to cover that story, but I was on deadline and I was unable to cover it, or I was on a special assignment, or other priorities were on my radar. so we celebrate those kind of follow ups.


00:05:28:19 - 00:05:48:17


But the trick is the follow up is not, hey, just want to bump this back up to the top of your inbox. The follow up is, hey, I don't know if you saw, but this, you know, pitch I sent you earlier, could be tied into this trending story that's also happening or hey, you know, to follow up on this pitch, I sent it to you about five days ago.


00:05:48:17 - 00:06:05:24


And since then, the numbers I put in the original pitch are now even more material or drastic or the, you know, story continues to escalate. Or you might say, in addition to what I sent you earlier, I now have a, a economist or a


00:06:05:24 - 00:06:14:07


statistician or another expert from an industry association who can give additional commentary on this particular topic.


00:06:14:10 - 00:06:36:17


So the reason why I say that is when you follow up, you have to add value, right? And, another thing I saw on LinkedIn recently, my friend Jim posted and he said, you know, this acronym, if you will, of no gas and, buy no gas. He's saying it stands for no one gives a shit and pardon the language, but I love this acronym.


00:06:36:17 - 00:07:07:24


Right. No gas. Right. So that's something in the back of our mind as communication professionals, we should be thinking about. So if your follow up has no gas, right. Your pitch has no gas. It has no newsworthiness, no value to the reporter and more importantly, to his or her audience, which is really what matters. So what you're out there pitching needs to be relevant and interesting and helpful to the outlet's audience, not just to you and your organization and your boss or your CEO.


00:07:07:24 - 00:07:11:26


So, you know, one of the worst things you can do is pitch something because your CEO said to,


00:07:11:26 - 00:07:27:04


follow up on something because your CEO said to, hey, I've been there. I've had a hot headed CEO who just insists that whatever we're announcing is the greatest thing, but in order for it to be the greatest thing, it's got to have newsworthy, and it's got to have, value to the audience.


00:07:27:11 - 00:07:56:12


How do you know if it's newsworthy? We've got ten elements of news. we'll link that in the so notes. but really elements of news, the ten of them come down to prominence and proximity. How relevant is this to people in the area? But the, reporter covers. Right. So something that is, newsworthy. And Paducah, right, probably isn't newsworthy nationwide, something that's newsworthy.


00:07:56:12 - 00:08:20:00


Nationwide might be able to be localized to Paducah, but not necessarily, in reverse. That's because impact. How impactful is your news story? How many people does it impact and how prominent are the players involved? Right. And we can get into that another time or link to some of our other videos and content where we walk you through the elements of news.


00:08:20:02 - 00:08:47:24


My point is, do follow up, but follow up the right way. Don't be naggy. Don't be that annoying person. you know, in this regard, media relations is very similar in my experience, to, to sales. Some of the best sales training I've ever been to and I haven't been to a lot. when I was there, I was like, hey, I can use this when I'm pitching media, I might I can share this tip with my team to media because Great Sales is about helping.


00:08:47:26 - 00:09:19:04


It's not about selling, it's about helping. Great media relations is about helping a reporter uncover a news story that's interesting, that they didn't know about previously. So I can't undermine that. And so I mentioned salespeople because some of the worst follow ups I've received are from salespeople. Things like when we're buying a VoIP phone system, literally the guy would call me at the end of each month and say, hey, I was really counting on your your commission from your sales this month because I've got a family I have to feed.


00:09:19:07 - 00:09:38:06


He thought that was a good follow up to me. I'm like, I'm I'm not I'm not emotionally tied to this decision. Right. I'm sorry that you were counting on a commission, but earn this commission. Earn the sale. Either bring me a better deal, bundle in more value, or explain to me why you're better than the other companies that we're considering.


00:09:38:06 - 00:10:04:09


Otherwise, we're not rushing into a decision because the end of the month. And you were hoping to hit your quota or hoping to get a certain commission. The same thing is true here with reporters. Don't follow up just to follow up, follow up, but you're adding more value, giving them more content or content or context and ideally hand delivered to them a fully baked new story where you've got the sources lined up, the angle lined up, and it's ready to go.


00:10:04:09 - 00:10:23:23


We've got a great blog post we'll put in the episode notes that talks about how the best, media pitch is already done for you. All right, I'm gonna move on to the second thing. Second thing he's got here is, rather than cookie cutter email pitches, pick up the phone and tell me a story. Okay. First of all, yes, yes and yes.


00:10:23:25 - 00:10:42:14


I'm blown away that he's suggesting you pick up the phone 90%, 80% or more of journalists that I know do not want you to pick up the phone and call them. They do not want that phone to ring. They don't want to talk to you. They want an email pitch that they can hit delete and move on from quickly.


00:10:42:16 - 00:11:00:21


But I gotta tell you, picking up the phone is the best thing that you can do. Even when they tell you don't pick up the phone. I know that might sound contrarian, but I can tell you and my team will tell you time and time again when they pick up the phone, which is part of our process, to pick up the phone and pitch ahead of time.


00:11:00:23 - 00:11:23:24


The journalists are more likely to cover your story. Now, I'm going to address a couple of thoughts that probably people are having. Number one, if journalists don't want to be called, why are you calling them number two? Who does voicemail anyway? They are much more in the modern era. All right, here we go. Number one, you call the journalist even though they tell you they don't want to.


00:11:23:28 - 00:11:44:00


Because my kids tell me they don't want to go to bed. They don't want to brush their teeth. They don't want to do homework. They don't want to take a bath. Right. But it's part of life. You have to do it. Okay. And so journalists depend on us for great news stories, and they don't want to be inconvenienced by a phone call.


00:11:44:02 - 00:12:03:00


But you know what? I don't like getting, a filling, but I know I need to do it. So sometimes there's things you don't want to do but are still hopeful and good and benefit you in the long run. So to me, at our agency, picking up the phone and calling our journalists, we are going to get their voicemail almost every time.


00:12:03:03 - 00:12:20:13


But the difference is we're going to leave them a voicemail and it's going to show and demonstrate to them professional courtesy of saying, hey, I've got this news story. It's about X, Y, and Z. I wanted to get your permission to send it. Now we're going to leave that voicemail, and 90% of the time they're not going to call us back.


00:12:20:13 - 00:12:44:15


Well, let me throw 90% of time. We're going to get their voicemail maybe 10% of the time, we're going to have a real conversation. And you got to be ready to have that conversation. You got to be ready to have that, leave that powerful voicemail you've got to be scripted. You've got to rehearse. You've got like 10s maybe three seconds to get their time and attention on a topic, and they will make a judgment quickly whether they want to stay on it or not.


00:12:44:15 - 00:13:13:09


Just like flipping through channels, on your remote. Okay. So when you leave 90% of the time, we're going to get their voicemail, okay? And 90% of the time they're not going to call us back, but some percentage of the time they are going to hear that voicemail. They're going to appreciate the professional courtesy of calling a time and attempting to have a 1 to 1 relationship, attempting to have a conversation about something instead of spraying and praying, or instead of spamming them, with email pitches.


00:13:13:11 - 00:13:38:29


Now, when they hear that voicemail, they're probably going to either recall the email or they're going to spend time going back into their email and doing a search for it and give that story a second chance or another consideration, which I love. I love that that's so good. Now maybe they got the email first and and deleted it or archived it, and then they heard the voicemail later and they go back and look at that email again.


00:13:39:02 - 00:13:57:15


Or maybe they got the voicemail first, and then they go looking in their email box to find exactly what this guy, Jason Mudd from Acsi is calling them about. Okay, so I love that this particular reporter was willing and open to say, pick up the phone and tell me a story, because most journalists do not want you to pick up the phone and interrupt their day.


00:13:57:17 - 00:14:18:22


And by the way, you are interrupting their day, so you better be scripted, prepared. Stay conversational, stay, legitimate. Stay human, stay interactive, stay interesting, but come prepared. Don't just kind of be like fumbling through your notes and trying to figure out your pitch on the fly. And by the way, I love it when I'm pitching a reporter on the fly because they can react to the pitch.


00:14:18:22 - 00:14:38:23


Well, that's not so interesting. Or we covered that before or whatever. And then you can improvise in real time. Improvising is one of the key attributes of being successful in PR, by the way. Okay. So this he continues to say I do answer the phone unless I'm tied up. And if you can explain your story by phone in 2 to 3 minutes, I'm way more engaged.


00:14:38:23 - 00:14:44:04


Or let's get coffee at my snack field office. Right tool. So, number one,


00:14:44:04 - 00:15:03:08


explain your story by phone in 2 to 3 minutes. I love this guy. Right? I don't know any other journalist that would offer 2 to 3 minutes. That's like a lifetime in a busy newsroom, so kudos to him. I think you've got 2 to 3 seconds, maybe 20 to 30s.


00:15:03:10 - 00:15:21:12


but if he's willing to listen for 2 to 3 minutes, he has a higher level of patience and compassion and humanity, than most other people I know in newsrooms. That's not a knock at people in newsrooms, but when you're operating at a high level at a prominent newsroom, time is of the essence and you're moving on


00:15:21:13 - 00:15:39:09


So, I really appreciate him offering this. I think that's really cool. Also, he says, let's get coffee at my office, and he calls it snack field. That sounds fun. I think any time you can be in a newsroom is a good idea. It's a reminder of the pace of the newsroom. It's a reminder of how newsrooms work and how it's segmented.


00:15:39:09 - 00:15:55:01


And, you know, that's one thing that I think a lot of, professionals in public relations today are missing out on. They've never some of them have never been in a newsroom before. It is here how busy it is. And the phone's ringing off the hook and the keyboards clacking and people typing and, and that kind of thing.


00:15:55:01 - 00:16:14:17


Also the structure of a newsroom to see kind of. Oh, over here, let's talk about a daily newspaper over. Here's the feature department, here's the sports department, here's the business department, here's the Metro desk, and here's the editing, desk and the copy editors. And I think it's really good just to kind of see that structure and see that animal lives and how it happens, because it helps you see that.


00:16:14:17 - 00:16:37:00


Okay, I've got a feature story here. And in the feature department there's a music writer, there's a, a theater writer and then all this stuff. Now, a lot of that stuff is kind of phased away, due to downsizing. And that's another topic I want to just kind of. I'll insert it now and that is, we now, as PR professionals, outnumber reporters 6 to 1.


00:16:37:05 - 00:17:03:26


And I'm hoping to do a future, episode of on top of PR about this. But for every six PR people, there's now one reporter. Now, keep in mind again, PR is way more than media relations, but media relations and press releases what people think about first when they think of PR, it's still a very important role, a PR it's certainly very desirable part of PR, that people really want and think of first.


00:17:03:28 - 00:17:36:21


But it can't be the only way that you're exercising PR, or else you will be greatly disappointed if you're hiring a PR agency or you're hiring a PR person, please, please, please allow, encourage, support them doing more than just trying to pitch media, pitching medias fantastic earned media coverage is fantastic, but there are other ways that they can tell your story through content, thought, leadership, and other community strategic communications initiatives and, raising visibility for your brand.


00:17:36:23 - 00:17:59:20


Again, don't forget about no gas right when you are trying to pitch a story or you're writing content, it needs to solve an issue they're struggling with, provide them with helpful insight and perspective, and appeal to their interest and concerns. Stop making it about you. Stop talking about you. Make it all about them. Make it a ways that they can be helped and be helpful, helpful, helpful, and your content.


00:17:59:20 - 00:18:21:01


Don't sell. Don't make it about you. Why does it matter to people outside your four walls? This is about any kind of content you're developing, whether it's a video, an email pitch, a blog post, whatever it might be. It's not about you. It's not about your company. It's not about your products and services. It's about how they help the audience live a better life and have a better experience.


00:18:21:04 - 00:18:42:18


And B2B make more money, save more time, have more work life, balance those kind of things. So be thinking about know gas and how you can turn that around into making it gas. Right. All right. So where are we here? the third point he makes here is that stories have conflict, character and context. 99% of the pitches.


00:18:42:18 - 00:19:00:13


Again, I'm sure he's making up statistics, which is fine. Of the pitches I get have none of those three essential elements of a story. So you read a novel where the protagonist just breezes through her life. yeah, I get it. So why would anyone, read a business story that does the same? Context is key. What's at stake here?


00:19:00:13 - 00:19:22:08


Why do we care? So first of all, why would anyone read a business story, right? That does the same big thing that I have to remind clients of all the time is people care about stories about people. They don't care about stories about corporations. have you ever been. Yeah. If you're a loyal listener to our podcast, you've heard me say this before.


00:19:22:11 - 00:19:46:28


You've never gone to a movie to see a movie, or you never read a book about a company. That might be the theme, but the true characters are the humans inside the company and the obstacles that they overcame. Right? It is not about a, articles of incorporation. It's not about a lease. It's not about four walls. It's not how tall your building is.


00:19:47:00 - 00:20:11:15


it's about the people and their journey in their experience. So even though you're pitching a company or you're pitching a story, right. about a company, it is really about the people. So don't forget that people element but story please have conflict, characters and context. I totally agree. Again, it comes back to proximity and prominence and impact, right?


00:20:11:22 - 00:20:36:06


How does this impact your audience? Why should they care? Why should they, gas. Right. All right. So, Let's see. yeah. So what's at stake here? Why do we care? Why does it matter? Right. So, yes, two questions should always be answerable in your pitch. Who cares? Why does it matter? Or why should I care? Right.


00:20:36:08 - 00:20:58:06


Our beat. Okay. The next point, he says, is for his particular situation. his beat is the future of work. But spare me the crystal ball glazing and 2030, prognostications and tell me what's actually happening with the current. with the current of work. What's messy, or what's currently happening with work, basically. Which is messy and confusing enough.


00:20:58:06 - 00:21:15:11


So, you know, that's a little nuanced and niche to him in his show. So I don't have a lot to add to that value other than saying, you know, there is some silliness of trying to predict what's going to happen in 2030. But newsflash, we're five years from there. So, you know, maybe that is interesting. Of course, nobody really knows.


00:21:15:11 - 00:21:36:18


But people really like those people who have confidence and who have a again, unique, contrarian and provocative point of view. Let me just hit on this again. I talk about this often. Right. if a reporter is interviewing four people for a news story, good journalism is that they include three independent sources. That's really missing today from a lot of journalism.


00:21:36:18 - 00:22:10:13


But traditional journalism, good journalism has multiple sources and by multiple sources. I think you need three or more independent sources. To that end, when a reporter is interviewing people to include in a story, they're going to include the three most provocative, contrarian, and unique point of views they can find. So if they interview four people and all four people say the same exact thing and give the same exact answer, then they're going to just pick the soundbite that was the best, or they're going to pick the most prominent person that they interviewed, either by their own name or by the brand name of the organization they represent.


00:22:10:15 - 00:22:42:23


At the end of the day, if you or your spokesperson or whoever your executive is you're putting in front of that journalist can be unique, provocative and constrained from what everyone else, from what everyone else is saying. You're going to be head and shoulders more competitive in that environment of getting quoted or getting included in the story. Most consumers or audience assume that the journalist went and met with or considered hundreds of sources and found the most qualified source to interview or quote or cite in their story.


00:22:43:01 - 00:22:59:22


The truth is, they went with the source that got back to them the quickest that they could get Ahold of, the quickest that they thought of first, they've used before that was within their network that they could talk to by deadline and, and gave the most unique and, unique, provocative and contrarian point of view than everybody else did.


00:22:59:22 - 00:23:19:20


That's it, that's it. It's about being quick and having good quality. they might wait for a source of some expertise or authority or visibility if they can. but, you know, they've got deadlines and they've got to move on as needed. So I'm going to take a quick break. We'll be back on the other side as I continue to share some of these insights from this reporter at Bloomberg.


00:23:19:20 - 00:23:20:29


Thanks for hanging out.


00:23:20:29 - 00:23:45:17


You're listening to on top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.


00:23:45:17 - 00:24:05:19


All right. Welcome back to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd. First, I just want to say thank you so much for your loyalty and your, of this podcast. I love producing this podcast. Your feedback and encouragement is super helpful. I love going to conferences, having people come up to me and say how much they love the podcast and how how they listen to it regularly and how faithful they are to it.


00:24:05:21 - 00:24:32:09


Appreciate your support. If that's you, please identify yourself, in the comments on our social media, or other places. Leave us a review. Tell your friends, and colleagues about what we're doing. We get so excited about, producing this podcast, and it just fuels us when we hear feedback. So if you want to leave us a review or share the podcast or comment on our social posts, we really appreciate, it'll just keep us energized and enthusiastic.


00:24:32:12 - 00:24:38:26


There's also sometimes a link to buying us coffee if you want, but a review would be even better. So thank you so much.


00:24:38:26 - 00:24:56:12


All right. this is one of my favorites, in general, because I'm a big believer in this myself. So let's see where it tip number 12345. Show don't tell. Okay. So I like to tell the the older I get or the more experienced I get in this industry.


00:24:56:12 - 00:25:14:16


I start using this more and more. But you know, I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the best school of journalism in the world. Undisputed, in my opinion. it's definitely the acclaimed Missouri School of Journalism. Well guess what? The State of Missouri slogan is the show me state, right? So I tell people all the time, show me.


00:25:14:16 - 00:25:36:14


Or I say, hey, I went to the you know, I attended college at the show Me state. Show me. Meaning prove it to me or show me visually what this is going to look like. I'm I'm just visual, and I can see things a lot clear. So he's saying show, don't tell. So if you think you've spotted a workplace trend, show me some reputable recent data to support it, not an online survey.


00:25:36:15 - 00:25:57:05


Survey of 80 random millennials. and, let's see. So he's just saying there's a lot of data out there that he could use. so he's looking for solid data, especially if it's exclusive to us. Goes a long way. All right. So a couple points here. First of all, again, love show don't tell. People are very visual by the way.


00:25:57:05 - 00:26:18:23


Journalists need visuals. So bring a visual to your pitch. That's something, that he could have said right there too. So journalists need a visual to go with any story that they pitch or that they cover, whether it's TV, they need video or they need graphics. But guess what? Everybody needs video and graphics. Now print does, web does, TV does.


00:26:19:01 - 00:26:39:02


Maybe radio is the exception, but guess what? Radio's producing an online version of the story as well. podcasts are doing the same and video casts are doing the same. The end of the day, you need visuals so, you know, prove it. Number one is what he's really saying. But I'm also saying put it visually now. data.


00:26:39:02 - 00:27:04:22


Right. So there's kind of this, this tension because BBS data, BBS surveys are exactly that. They're just not worth it. Nope. No one's really interested. Right. But reliable data, interesting data, that tells a story is going to be very valuable. I think every organization has some data underneath there, you know, within their walls that they don't realize is newsworthy and valuable and interesting.


00:27:04:22 - 00:27:27:15


You just have to learn how to look for it, find it, interpret it, and use that data to tell a story, with insights, as opposed to just regurgitating some data. He just kind of mentions briefly in this one tip, especially if it's exclusive to us. So let's talk about that for a minute. Man, this is a very packed episode here.


00:27:27:17 - 00:27:58:15


Exclusive means exclusive. You're pitching this exclusively to an outlet. The journalist hate it when you tell them you're giving them an exclusive, when really you mean in advance, meaning you're giving it to them ahead of time. But you're also giving it to other outlets. Or you call an exclusive, but you're also giving it to other outlets. Now, it's one thing to say, I'm giving just to you and X number of outlets exclusively, but it's not really an exclusive at that point.


00:27:58:18 - 00:28:26:08


You're just pitching it to a limited audience because you want them. There's a reason for doing the exclusive, which is, hey, if I give this to you exclusively, you'll give it more attention and more visibility because it's quote unquote, an exclusive. Now, the problem is either out of ignorance or poor integrity. and ethics. Some PR people have, abused this and told somebody they're giving them an exclusive, but either not knowing what it meant or not honoring that commitment.


00:28:26:09 - 00:28:45:10


Shame shame shame shame shame. So there is a difference between an exclusive and an advance and advances. You give it to them ahead of time so they they have it. There's three things. There's an exclusive, an advance and an embargo. an exclusive, an advance and an embargo. An exclusive means I give it to you and only you.


00:28:45:13 - 00:29:11:10


Okay? An advance means I'm giving it to you before I'm giving it to other places. But I am giving it to some other people, so it's not exclusive. And then thirdly, an embargo is when I say, hey, I'm giving this to you now on Tuesday afternoon, but you have an embargo. We have an embargo on it, meaning we have an agreement that you're not going to run the story until Thursday.


00:29:11:13 - 00:29:34:10


but I'm giving it to you Tuesday afternoon, so you have time to prep it, verify, source it, do some interviews, and then you can publish it or go live with it on Thursday. But it's embargoed until then. I know from personal experience that I've done many stories before with an embargo, everything's gone great until someone talks out of turn.


00:29:34:12 - 00:29:56:26


about the story before the embargo date, and one news outlet covers it, maybe an outlet that I didn't give it to. because it was, you know, somewhat of, I is given as an advance. Right. And I gave it maybe let's just hypothetically say we gave it to five outlets. And of those five outlets, you know, some six outlet got wind of it and they ran it.


00:29:57:00 - 00:30:21:09


Well, then the other five immediately ran the story because they had it and they were ready to go. And they just said, hey, we're not honoring the embargo anymore because, you know, this random publication went ahead and read it, I ran it, I've been there a couple times in my career. Drives me crazy. It's usually when we're doing a mutual announcement of some sort, and somebody on the other side runs their mouth a little bit, and to too many people or to the wrong people, and next thing you know, it's gone live.


00:30:21:09 - 00:30:41:12


make sure you know what an exclusive is. Make sure you honor those commitments, and know the difference between exclusive in advance and an embargo. By the way, if you have any questions about these things, feel free to reach out. We'd be happy to answer them. we often take the questions we receive, turn them into videos, blogs, podcasts, etc. and then send it to you so you get in to chance to check it out.


00:30:41:17 - 00:31:03:20


And sometimes we'll send it to you as an advance. So you get to see it before we, we go live with it. All right. I believe we're on number six here. okay. The next thing is basically saying is beyond show me. Now he's saying, find me an actual situation where it's happening. So, you know, he's saying where I can talk to a CEO or employees or people.


00:31:03:20 - 00:31:21:13


Basically, this is very unique to his particular beat. But what are they're willing to comment. And he put an all caps on the record. Okay. So we're going to talk about on the record here. Right. But he say we'll write about it. so we want to talk to people who are experiencing it, not just some random thought leader who wrote a book about it.


00:31:21:16 - 00:31:23:05


eight years ago and


00:31:23:05 - 00:31:40:21


has been living off the proceeds from it. So I get what he's saying here. But really, at the end of the day, let me summarize this a little bit more specifically for you. He's saying, look, I want to talk to real people. I want to talk to actual people who have actual experience, who have actually experienced this or have something to say that's interesting about it on the record.


00:31:40:24 - 00:32:03:14


So another words like, don't pitch a story if you don't have sources available who are willing to talk about it, you have to do your homework to find these sources. And so, for example, I know there's been times where we've had stories for a client that we have pitched in with. That pitch is, hey, in addition to my expert, I've lined up two other experts from independent third party sources who can come and talk to you.


00:32:03:14 - 00:32:27:17


So one time we were working with an insurance client, and the insurance company obviously had their CEO available to talk about it, but then we provided a, a college professor who, was knowledgeable in the insurance space and, and was able to speak to the topic. And then we found, in so the insurance association, president who was able to talk about it as well.


00:32:27:24 - 00:32:57:20


And what's even better is if those three people we've lined up represent some sort of diversity of, of, of ethnicity and gender and things like that, so that the newsroom is kind of appealing to a broad audience. Right. but the big issue here is you got to have people willing to on the record, if you've got a story pitch for them and nobody willing to talk about it, that's really just not is helpful and actually might be bothersome to the reporter because you brought them a great story, which they love, and now they want to do it.


00:32:57:22 - 00:33:19:26


But then you've told them, oh, it's not available. It's kind of like finding something you really like on the internet or in a store, but then realizing they're sold out and you feel like, okay, there's no solution. The employees like, oh, we'll try back another day. Well, that doesn't really help me or make me feel better, right? So they need somebody on the record, who has experienced it or has some authority on it, not somebody just guessing.


00:33:19:28 - 00:33:36:06


kind of thing is is the best thing I would recommend here. So be sure you can provide the sources. You can back it up, and always be ready and equipped. I mean, if you want a journalist to love you, here's what you do. You have your client available, which they know is self-serving and as part of the story you brought.


00:33:36:10 - 00:34:05:01


But then line up the other two people that they can talk to right. That would be super helpful. And then have that visual that I mentioned to go with it. Okay. The next point you're saying is stop with the self-serving surveys. just stop if your client does, you know, let's see, catering and, and commissions a survey about how free food is the key, to the return to work, return to the office, or getting employees to come to an event or getting employees to come to work.


00:34:05:04 - 00:34:23:17


you know, that's marketing, not journalism. yeah, I agree with this 100%. Right. I do think there are surveys for sure. You can use that are very valuable, but we all know we can, do a survey that comes out with the outcome that we're trying to get. So try to make your survey have the highest integrity, make it intentional.


00:34:23:19 - 00:34:38:23


you know, just because you did a survey doesn't mean the journalists are interested in it. And we've had several companies come to us this year and they say, hey, we want to do, you know, we're doing a survey, we want to do a survey, whatever. And the the ultimate endgame is to make sure we get media coverage.


00:34:38:23 - 00:35:00:23


Well, let's make sure that survey from the very beginning is newsworthy. Let's collaborate on it. Don't go do the survey on your own, then dump it on to a PR firm unexpectedly and turn this into news. Right? The second thing is, you know, let's don't blow your whole budget on doing the survey and then not have any money to raise visibility for, its results.


00:35:00:23 - 00:35:15:10


Okay, the next thing he says is we welcome ideas from outside the US and have a global newsroom with talented reporters and dozens of bureaus of bureaus who can chase them down. Okay, that's good to know. you may not, find that applicable to what you have. And then he said,


00:35:15:10 - 00:35:21:08


I can't believe I still have to say this, but don't send me a pitch promising your clients steaming hot.


00:35:21:09 - 00:35:42:14


Take on a trending story. That one of our rivals just published. So what that means is, basically, don't pitch him on something that another news outlet covered and just say, hey, your CEO is available to say basically the same thing or don't make it sound like, this is something that's fresh and not been covered before, when it's already been covered somewhere else.


00:35:42:14 - 00:36:00:26


Honestly, it sounds like this reporter has, just been burnt by this before. and, and so he's a little sensitive to it, but he's not wrong. That's obviously something that you don't want to do. The other thing you don't want to do. And I see this happen all the time. I even see it occasionally within my own organization.


00:36:00:26 - 00:36:26:20


And it just makes me want to facepalm. And that is that in this particular case, let's talk about it. So, you know, let's say that, again, this report is with Bloomberg. So let's say he did a story today. that you felt like, oh my goodness, I really do think that my, that my CEO could have been in this interview or our company should have been included in this news story that you just produced.


00:36:26:20 - 00:36:51:17


Right. And, and so then it's a story ran on Wednesday morning and then Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning, the following week, you say, hey, I was reading your story where you talked about this trend. If you ever cover or, you know, hey, I think you should have been included our client in this. too bad you didn't. would you consider adding this quote into your story?


00:36:51:17 - 00:37:06:11


Well, first of all, the answer is no, right? They're not going to do that. They wrote the story, they moved on. How do you like how would you like it if somebody asks you to redo your work? That one you don't even know this person to. This person doesn't pay you. Three this person has no authority over you and they're telling you to redo your work.


00:37:06:11 - 00:37:27:16


You're going to tell them to pound sand, right? But also don't go to them. Say, hey, if you cover this story again, please consider my client because guess what? That trend story that we just talked about, they're probably not going to write about that story again any time soon in the future, and for you to expect them to do it just to include you or your client is just being ridiculous.


00:37:27:18 - 00:37:50:14


in their on. So please be aware of that. All right. next one is if we do quote your client, we need to explain in plain English what they do. Please do not spend half the day trying to convince me. Describe said client as a into end, best of breed, holistic enterprise solutions provider. It distracts us from the actual hard work of fact checking in.


00:37:50:14 - 00:38:13:15


Annoys me immensely. Have a quiet word with your client about this. So yes, and I agree with him. And I'm going to. Yes. And this I'm going to say yes and don't describe your company right. As you know, the leading this the premier this, the number one that or first in class or whatever it might be without attribution.


00:38:13:15 - 00:38:38:25


So, you know, one thing we talk about here, at Axia is that, you know, Forbes named in Forbes magazine, named Axia Public Relations, one of America's top PR agencies. Right. Boom. We are. We didn't say Axia is one of America's your agencies. We didn't say Acsi as a top PR agency. We said Forbes magazine named Acsi as one of America's top PR agencies.


00:38:38:28 - 00:38:58:27


We are a we are attributing that to Forbes. Forbes hired a third party research firm and partnered together to pull off that list of, I think it was 200 best PR firms in America. It's not just something we're claiming. We're not saying we're a leading PR firm. We're not saying we're the best PR firm. We're saying Forbes said that we're the best PR firm.


00:38:58:27 - 00:39:21:21


Right? And so you can't say you're the biggest or you're the best unless you've got some attribution to it. Otherwise, that's just hyperbole. And nobody wants hyperbole in their, and their new right. And, it was just talking about this the other day, like, you can put the little registered trademark, next to your brand name, you can put your brand name in all caps, but don't expect the media to do that.


00:39:21:24 - 00:39:41:28


You know, if you want that done, you need to buy an ad. You need to pursue paid media. At the end of the day, journalists are writing a story. They're not your publicists, they're not your PR firm. They need to remain neutral and independent, and you need to allow them to do that, because journalism has an important role in our society beyond just the self-serving things you want.


00:39:42:00 - 00:39:59:04


Okay. So again, to summarize, what he's saying is, look, keep it simple, right? I don't need a complex job title. I don't need a complex explanation of who you are and what you do. I remember the 90s. There was this big trend when companies maybe it was the 2000s companies would call you and try to sell you something this.


00:39:59:07 - 00:40:14:19


Then they'd be like, oh, well, we have this incredible system that allows you to do amazing things in your business, just runs itself or whatever, like, okay, is this a, workflow? Is this software? What is it? Oh, I can't tell you. I'll have to have a conversation with you. And it's like, you know, like, we don't have time for that.


00:40:14:26 - 00:40:37:03


You've got to tell us exactly what you're offering so we can put you in the category. We can understand, process and move on, because people only have so much attention and time that they're willing to share. So this is the list, from a Bloomberg News reporter. I thought this was very helpful to walk through. I'm also going to share a link in the episode notes to a video we did years ago.


00:40:37:03 - 00:41:05:17


I'm probably going to be embarrassed by it, because it's so many years ago, but it was a similar take or collection of thoughts with a conversation with a CNN news, producer just kind of going through kind of, her expert advice on how to pitch CNN, how to pitch a newsroom. Super helpful and good content. The reason I say I might be embarrassed is because I'm embarrassed by the work I did six months ago, because we're I'm always getting better.


00:41:05:17 - 00:41:24:02


We're always getting better. And I would challenge you to, in your own profession, in your own work, that you should really be embarrassed by the work you did just a year ago, because you should be up leveling and getting 1% better every day. So that not only one, are you getting better? And two, your team's getting better.


00:41:24:05 - 00:41:41:12


but you're just leveling up, and, so, you know, I always encourage my team, like, you should be embarrassed looking back at the work you did six months or a year ago, because you're getting that much better every day. And I think that's really important, too. So, hey, if you have thoughts about this, content that I shared here today, I would love to hear from you.


00:41:41:19 - 00:42:14:23


Maybe you completely disagreed with some of the things that were discussed. here. But I can tell you that, you know, Bloomberg News probably doesn't get nearly the number of pitches, as, other more prominent outlets like maybe, CNBC, MSNBC or NBC news. That's all right. And so, you know, I think this individual for spending some time putting all this together, sharing these thoughts and honestly, you allowing me to share some of my commentary, as I share it with you and I kind of react to it with you.


00:42:14:23 - 00:42:33:16


So, hey, this has been another episode of On Top of PR. I want to thank you for joining in. Like I said earlier, thank you for your loyalty, your enthusiasm, your support, your advocacy for what we do. If I had it my way, I would do this full time. So if you know of anyone who wants to sponsor this show, we would love that too.


00:42:33:16 - 00:42:43:28


And we're thankful for our friends who do sponsor it at, review Max. Or I also want to thank Axia, my company, for their support and our team for their support for helping us put this together and helping you stay on top of PR, be well.


00:42:43:28 - 00:43:39:19


This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode and check out past episodes at ontopofpr.com.

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About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


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