Social media pitches: journalists weigh-in

New York Times political writer Nick Confessore hates being pitched through social media and prefers the email pitch over the former. His distaste for the social media pitch is not unique, as again and again journalists have expressed their preference for email pitches. But there are always exceptions. inVocus asked several journalists to share their opinion on the social media pitch and found that the majority prefer the traditional email:

Colleen Farrell, reporter, Messenger Post Media

“Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I prefer pitches via email. I can read it on my time, refer to the materials attached inside, do a quick Internet search if I need more info, and make my decision. Phone calls put you on the spot, and I think most reporters are defensive at first when they hear a pitch. You’re trying to come up with a way to decline, because you anticipate doing so.

I’ve gotten a few ideas through Facebook messenger or online. Never Twitter, but I’m not a big tweeter. I think email is the best way – it’s direct, it’s hard to miss, and it’s easy to put aside for a later date – which reporters often do!”

Jane Louise Boursaw, editor/founder, Reel Life with Jane

“I’m not open to pitches on social media, but I do love Twitter. It’s such a freeform string of communication, and you can click through to their stream and easily see what they’re doing, their interests, the types of people with whom they connect. For me, I prefer email because it gives me a concrete piece of communication that I can file into its appropriate folder in my inbox. Social media is a little less concrete because it moves so fast, especially on Twitter, and I’m less apt to keep track of things there… But I’m open to connecting with people on social media who are interested in pitching me.” 

Mandy Stadtmiller, deputy editor, xoJane.com

“I prefer email actually and always love: what the headline would be, two lines about what the story is about and then link to your sample writing along with contact info. This could be done through a DM [direct message] I suppose, but for me email is preferable.”

Marissa Hermanson, editor in chief, Breathe Magazine

“I prefer when people send me story pitches via email, but having some sort of social media relationship present before is great. If someone connects with us via Twitter, that shows that they actually do follow us as a publication, which scores major brownie points. If they interact with us via Twitter or Facebook it shows that they really do care about being part of our publication and conversation. It helps if they retweet us frequently or have some back-and-forth flirtation going with us via Twitter, because then we’ve already established some sort of relationship and when they email me a pitch, I already have an idea of who they are.”

Menachem Wecker, education reporter, U.S. News & World Report

Here’s the way I see it. When I pitch my editor, I don’t get an hour to explain the story, nor do I get her attention for thousands of words. I need to boil the trend or news or whatever the piece is down to a few words that capture the essence of its thrust. So it’s actually not very useful to me at all to get a full, 1,000-plus-word release. First of all, I’m never going to use the sanitized quote from the senior official, because one, I won’t understand it, and two, it’s going to be so atmospheric that it will reside somewhere between a tautology or a truism. Also, if I’m at the point of trying to decide if there is indeed a story (and that means something that’s larger than just one institution, or one segment of one institution), I don’t need to see the institution’s boiler plate language, or the whole “For Immediate Release” header, or any kind of spin. I just want to know the facts, the evidence, and what exactly is happening and how/why. That’s why I prefer Twitter pitches; that forces folks to discard all the excess verbiage and unnecessary details and really get to the meat of the story. Of course, if I am going to work on the story, I’ll have a million questions, but in my experience, those tend to overwhelmingly be things that weren’t covered in the release anyway, which, in my mind, makes the release kind of a waste of everyone’s time.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

 

 

 

Katrina M Mendolera

Katrina Mendolera took the helm of inVocus as editor in chief in 2009, and has been running the site ever since. She initially joined Vocus as a senior media researcher for newspaper content in 2007. Prior to that, Katrina worked in daily and weekly newspapers. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. In her free time, she also serves as an editor for Booktrope Publishing. Her first novel, Fractured Dream, is due out in June 2014. Email: krandall(at)vocus.com.

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