September is here, and the advent of another school season is the focus for thousands of editors and reporters covering the nation’s education system, from elementary schools to universities. If you’re a PR professional hoping to get the attention of these editors, the following are some guidelines for getting to the head of the pitching class.
Consider the audience
Many education reporters focus on national issues, and many focus on regional issues. If a reporter’s beat is local, stay within the lines. Conversely, if a publication’s coverage is nationally focused, avoid an angle that’s city or state-specific. Often, a pitch on a national trend can be localized if the connection is stated upfront.
Think outside the box
Reporters have come to expect standard story topics such as teacher salaries and technology in schools. Surprising or unique angles to such topics can score high grades with writers looking to add a fresh perspective to a well-known issue within education.
Focus on the feature
Education coverage can be highly feature-based, so new product announcements tend to be avoided by many writers within the beat. Those editors who do accept product pitches still draw a distinct line between a write-up on a promising product and promotional placement; showcase a new product in an applicable setting or consider advertising to better reach a publication’s target audience.
Show the numbers
Similar to the math teacher who expected you to prove your answer, writers who are interested in research news prefer hard data such as survey results or other quantifiable measures with pitches. Newsworthy items on student performance, new or unique testing methods, and teacher recruitment and retention are all examples in which numbers should be emphasized.
Do the research
The common denominator for pitching these editors and countless others is to provide an A+ pitch that that demonstrates familiarity with their coverage. The advice to “do your homework” before pitching may sound cliché, but who better than those who cover education to recognize when PR professionals have really studied?
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