E-mail pitches are so ubiquitous—so passé—that yet another blog has risen to popularity highlighting PR pitching gaffes. And you know something? It’s a sign. It is time to once again embrace good old post mail.
Welcome back old friend.
Consider this: reporters probably receive hundreds of e-mails daily, and maybe one or two pieces of regular mail. Under those odds the most effective way to reach a reporter is through the post, especially if you’re looking to forge a relationship.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from Ben Bradley, a general assignment reporter from the ABC-affiliate in Chicago. I interviewed him in May and he offhandedly said this:
“You know I only get one or two pieces of mail a day. So if it’s not something on a time crunch—I get less regular mail than e-mail, so I’m more inclined to see it.”
The same suggestion came about one month later in a conference session where several Chicago journalists were telling nonprofit communicators how to pitch.
A Chicago Sun-Times reporter mentioned snail mail, which drew a chorus of nods from his fellow panel members. One reporter told a university communicator, who wondered how she could get her professors-as-experts in the news, to drop a business card and short note into an envelope and mail it.
The reporter’s advice: make the note handwritten; make it short; include an e-mail address, Web site and business card. And tease the reporter. Give her a reason to seek you out.
Just avoid ostentation. “[Don’t] send a stuffed animal with balloons to the news room,” Bradley said.
Don’t get me wrong. E-mail pitches will never cease; some remain effective, especially if there’s a preexisting relationship with the reporter. Problem is there are too many e-mail pitches. So break through the clutter. Send a reporter a piece of mail.
Here’s the Ben Bradley how to pitch video from last spring. Unfortunately, at the time his snail mail comment hit the cutting room floor.