Offering an expert source to comment on a news event is a time-tested and perfectly honorable way to pitch a client to the media. But often such pitches are so vague they reduce your chances of success.

I recently received an e-mail offering a source to discuss "the Yahoo-Zimbra deal or the Mozilla Thunderbird announcement." If the PR professional had briefly reminded me what the "Yahoo-Zimbra deal or the Mozilla Thunderbird announcement" were I’d have a much better idea if I were interested. (Upon investigation I found that Mozilla had spun off its Thunderbird email client into a new, for-profit company, while Yahoo agreed to buy Zimbra and its Web-hosted collaboration and messaging suite.)

The email went on to say that their source could comment on how these deals would be seen by the SMB (small and medium business) market. But it didn’t tell me whether these SMB customers would be happy, sad, thrilled, dejected, terrified or bored to tears. Fleshing out the email with some idea of what their source would say would have likely snagged more calls. This could have been as simple as "My client Joe Jones can explain exactly why SMB customers are reluctant to use "free" software such as Thunderbird, and what in his view Mozilla needs to do to calm these fears."

By providing more specifics about what your expert has to say, you 1) prove to the reporter that the expert is worth interviewing and 2) let the reporter know whether and how that expert’s comments will fit into their story. Being as specific as you can increases the chance a busy editor or reporter will pick up the phone to contact your client.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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