Imagine for a moment that each mistake that you made would live forever on YouTube, as seen in this not-safe-for-work video, or each time you produced something, it would be open for public comment and sharing (usually with a headshot of you next to it).
Then imagine that you chose to do this, not for pay (because there isn’t much), but because you really love a good story.
For all of the criticism of the press (and media should be criticized), there is no reward when they perfectly deliver a story. That is just the expectation. With that in mind, a small dose of empathy for the press can go a long way.
I know the following behaviors are guaranteed to irritate any editor, reporter or producer because I have been guilty of them myself. You don’t have to go down that road.
Don’t do these:
You’ve worked hard to craft the pitch and, finally, the producer says he will go with your story. There’s just one problem: Your source decided to flake completely. Best of luck trying to explain yourself or offer other options. It doesn’t work.
If you pitch a person (or yourself) as a resource or expert, know what is expected, have a strategy and talking points. Flaking out hurts your reputation far more than a boring interview.
News outlets always want to be the first with a story. It’s how they compete. If you offer a scoop or tell a reporter they will be the first to cover an announcement or story, then you need to make good on that.
Avoid telling everyone after you’ve made that promise. Be strategic with whom you pitch first. You will need to read, research and find the best fit.
You may think, “I don’t owe them anything. It’s my story. I can pitch as many people as I want.” You’re right. You can sleep well tonight knowing you are right. Meanwhile, your competitors will be the ones getting coverage.
Let’s say you’re a reporter and I tell you I have a story idea for you that will be perfect for your audience. Of course, I have said that it would be perfect to every media person on this list I downloaded, and I’m not offering up solid details as to why it’s so perfect for you. Are you interested?
Slow down before you pitch. Be sure you know who you are pitching, why they would like it, and stats or contacts to back up your idea. Then pitch individually. Save time for the reporters you pitch and yourself.
Reporters owe you nothing. It’s important to keep in mind when you’re framing a story. They serve their audience, not you. Treat them accordingly.
When I was an editor, I had people asking regularly me when their story was going to be on the cover. With that attitude, the guaranteed answer was, “Never.” You can have enthusiasm. By all means, sell your idea, but do it in a respectful way.
A version of this article originally appeared on the KolbeCo Marketing Resources blog.