When journalism and public relations intersect

These two professions have more in common than pros in those fields might care to admit. One PR exec shares a memorable pitching experience involving a New York Times reporter.

Many journalists have taken to social media, particularly Twitter, to promote their stories online.

As publishers increasingly rely on analytics to measure the performance of their journalists, every click counts.

The New York Times has expanded upon this measurement approach, and it mirrors tactics used by many PR pros. My colleague Bob Pickard shared his interaction with Times reporter Ian Urbina, who had emailed him to promote a series of stories called “The Outlaw Ocean.”

Although it’s a form letter, it’s a darn good one.

I liked Urbina’s word choice, and the publication’s condoning (assuming this was copy edited) his starting a sentence with “but.”

“Forgive me if this is an intrusion. But we’re experimenting with some new methods for getting content directly to readers with particular interests.”

The email has value in the PR world, because it reads with the voice of genuine human interaction and not the patter of a promotional copywriter. It’s also helpful that the writer took time to seek out an individual with ties to the topic he’s pitching. Many marketers fall victim to reusing email lists from previous efforts, rather than investing time to determine which contacts have applicable ties to their latest pitch.

RELATED: How to Be a Brand Journalist – Tell compelling stories and take your story directly to your audience.

Although Urbina might enjoy the give-and-take with readers or cultivating a new source or two, that’s not the end game with this pitch.

Instead, the reporter is hoping these email recipients will post “The Outlaw Ocean” stories on their social media channels and that perhaps their contacts will, too.

The work this reporter is doing sounds suspiciously like the work of another profession. Do you have any guesses as to what it might be?

Lou Hoffman is CEO of the Hoffman Agency, a global communications consultancy. He blogs about storytelling in business at Ishmael’s Corner , where a version of this article originally appeared.

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Topics: PR

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