Four ways to grab a freelance journalist's attention
For PR reps, working with freelance writers is often more difficult than their on-staff counterparts.
We work on our schedules, make our own deadlines and are quite often overworked.
Though we have the freedom to write about whatever we want, why should we write for your client? Beyond your email pitch, it’s helpful to have a background on the nature of our jobs.
Before you reach out to another writer, here are four concrete ways to help grab a freelance writer’s attention.
1. Understand a freelancer’s role in the industry
An advantage to working with freelance writers is that they maintain full editorial control for the most part. They can choose what and what not to write about. Conversely, someone with a staff position may be able to pitch stories to their editors, but mostly respond to their editor’s assignments and demands.
However, there’s a caveat to working with freelancers.
Although they have more freedom than their on-staff counterparts, they’re more restrict to the stories they fight for and (if necessary) pitch multiple times. Especially with straight product reviews, certain leads can be difficult to sell. As a freelancer myself, it’s nearly impossible to pitch a product based on a press release alone.
2. Complement beat-specific work
This might seem obvious, but I’ve received so many PR emails from beats I don’t cover. That said, don’t pitch to freelancers outside of your beat. For instance, don’t reach out to a tech reporter about cruelty-free eye makeup. Of course, there will be grey areas, but understand the boundary.
In order to identify a writer’s beat(s), familiarize yourself with their work. Check out their professional website and/or portfolio. For instance, many use Muck Rack, Contently or Pressfolio for portfolios. Usually, all it takes is a simple Google search.
Alternatively, many writers maintain an active Twitter presence and link their work in their profile bios. Once you find some type of list of their writing, go through it. Skim and read their top stories.
In your pitch email, be sure to mention which pieces stuck out to you and why. It’s always flattering for us to receive an email that starts with complementing our work.
3. Suggest potential publications
Identifying a possible publication for us to pitch to takes work off our shoulders. This step not only shows you’re knowledgeable of the publications we write for, but shows you’ve chosen us (a specific writer) over other contributors to the same outlet.
If you want to jump a step even further, reach out to an editor.
Tell the editor you’re familiar with a specific writer’s work and would love to suggest an article. This interaction makes it easier for us, because we won’t even have to spend precious time searching for a publication and an interested editor.
4. Know when to stop following up
In the era of email overload, we don’t need to receive any more emails than we need.
Personally, I don’t have the time nor energy to follow up with every single PR pitch I receive, even though I don’t receive many. That’s why it’s important to know when to stop following up. Otherwise, it could jeopardize a potential professional relationship.
To be safe, follow up once if you haven’t heard from us. Do so a week after you’ve sent the email. Anymore follow-ups will be excessive, especially if they’re sent only days later. Don’t overdo it.
When you can better understand the life of a freelance journalist, your expectations may change and thus improve your communication and correspondence with them.
Besides, who doesn’t love being complimented and having an editor come to them with an idea?
Danielle Corcione is a freelance writer with bylines on Esquire, Vice, the Establishment, and more. To learn more about their work, visit their website.
Photo via Pixabay