How to Start Thinking Like a Reporter – 6 Tips
Friday, July 12, 2013

How to Start Thinking Like a Reporter – 6 Tips Featured

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Managing your message isn’t a simple task these days. Gone are the days where you simply issued a press release and hoped it got picked up verbatim.

Along with today’s digitally-driven culture and the proliferation of social sites like Twitter, managing your message is less in your control than ever before. So it’s more important than ever before that you’re maximizing what you’re saying. Frankly, it’s time you started thinking like a reporter.

From day one in journalism school, reporters are taught to communicate using an inverted pyramid. In simplistic terms, just take the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how) of any situation, pack them into the lead paragraph and build from there. That’s exactly how most of today’s content is structured in fact– quick and factual (one can only hope) snippets that provide time-pressed consumers with the data they need to power through to the next.


When you start thinking like that, you’ve started thinking like a journalist.

Today’s media is inundated with messages. So they need to be able to think smart and fast to cut through the clutter.  On average they receive 50-100 pitches per day. And at Tilson we’re reminded daily that our first order of business is getting our clients’ messages across loud and clear. Week after week we’re lining up spokespersons to talk with media. One of the first things we teach them in preparing for an interview is to think like a reporter.

How? Here are six quick tips to consider:


Dig Deep– Curate the top media outlets that matter most to your brand and focus on becoming experts on what they cover, who covers what, and, most importantly, where your brand fits in best.

Be a Respected Resource– The best way to help media is to provide them with accurate, complete, compelling and timely information about your brand and your space. Don’t be tempted to speak about things that have nothing to do with your business or core competency – focus on what you know.

Personalize it– Make your pitches more personal by tailoring your key messages to the journalists’ specific needs. It’s not a one-pitch fits all world anymore – even small nuances and word choice affect how media perceives your brand and if you’re a fit for their editorial mission.

Have a Point of View– Media wants to talk with experts who are willing to take a stand and offer up their opinion. Know your business and what’s driving your industry and don’t be afraid to say, “This is what I think.” It will help your brand stand apart from your competitors.

Be a Clock Watcher– Just like your day unfolds in day parts, so does the news cycle. One of the best times of day to pitch is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when most journalists are at their desk.

Go Above and Beyond- Give journalists more than what they’ve asked by offering up additional data or resources. When you help press do their job, not only are you forging a relationship that’s bound to continue to pay off, you may be triggering a new story angle.

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Tracy Tilson


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