PRfect Pitch focuses on interviewing media and key event managers who PR agencies pitch regularly on behalf of clients. As the name implies, successful pitching is a key ingredient in achieving results as a public relations professional.

The podcast discusses how and when to pitch a story to editors and producers who in turn learn which PR sources can be trusted to bring them interesting stories that resonate with their audience. 

Our third guest was Susan Karlin, a regular contributor to Fast Company, where she covers space, science, autonomous vehicles, and the future of transportation. Susan has traveled to a long list of countries to cover stories and loves learning about new cultures, emerging trends, and the people behind them.

Nicole and Susan talked about best practices for pitching new journalists, how to maintain a friendly yet professional ongoing relationship that benefits both parties, and more.  Here are a few takeaways:

You Need To Know Clients’ Messaging Like The Back Of Your Hand

Consistent messaging is key. As a PR professional, it’s important that both the client’s website and how the firm is positioning the client in a pitch are consistent.

Accurate messaging is the first step in a journalist deciding whether or not they want to work with you. For Susan, when she works with a PR professional, she looks at it as a partnership and trust is at the core. “If a publicist is good at their job, they’ll know their client inside and out,” Susan said. 

When a journalist looks at a pitch, they want all of the necessary information right off the bat. If there are additional questions, it’s easier for a journalist to ask the publicist who knows the messaging, rather than waiting for a CEO to get back to them.

It’s important to note that there’s a process that journalists follow. If the publicist has all the answers, then a journalist can go directly to their editor and pitch the story. Not only is this quicker, but also makes it more likely that a story will be written.

Be Flexible

If someone writes for a variety of publications, like Susan, the publication you pitch her for might not work, but another will. Every publication is different — sometimes it’s the journalist who can decide whether or not a story will run, and other times it’s an editor, like at Fast Company.

If you’re flexible and open minded, you’ll likely lock in a story, even if it’s not what you initially had in mind. 

Additionally, if you go into a pitch idea open to other opportunities, you will grow as a PR professional, while also making a journalist friend at a new publication. 

Thoughtful Subject Lines Are Imperative

Does this sound familiar? It’s a common theme in PRfect Pitch interviews and there’s a good reason why.

You may remember Jessica Naziri’s interview where she mentioned that email subject lines let a journalist know right off the bat if they’d like to move forward with a story. Susan feels the same.

Journalists are often pressed for time, which is why subject lines are important. A journalist will begin by skimming their email, and if a subject line piques their interest they’ll open the email and read the first few sentences for more information.

That said, you want to make sure that the subject line and body of the email provide all of the necessary information. As Nicole said, “Do your homework, know the journalist’s needs, understand what your client is trying to accomplish, and be honest.”

Journalism Is An Interpretative Art

Journalism is subjective. There’s no one way to understand something and this is one reason why journalism is an interpretive art. Think of it as presenting a scenario as opposed to coming up with something from scratch. 

As technology, companies, and platforms evolve, there’s always something new to learn and everyone will have their own take on it, which is part of the art of journalism as well.

Journalists must pivot based on what’s going on in the world and part of this interpretive art is understanding what others want to see based on timeliness.

“I often speak with publicists about branding and presentation,” Susan said “A lot of people who have been in the field for about 10 years feel that there’s nothing else to learn. However, this is far from the truth.If you are still learning in your job 20 or 30 years later, you are really lucky. 

That’s the beauty of journalism. There’s always something new to learn. As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young, but becomes constantly more valuable, regardless of physical capacity.”

You can listen to this season of PRfect Pitch via YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast platform. The full interview with Susan can be found here!