I recently took a trip down memory lane as I converted old VHS tapes and DVDs featuring clips from my career in news into a digital format. Along with my favorite stories, best and most memorable live shots and award-winning stories were several versions of my “escape tape” – a resume reel that is sent to bigger markets in hopes of landing the next job. That’s when it hit me. All those years of compiling and updating my reel taught me valuable lessons about how to effectively pitch the media.
- Get to the point quickly. A general rule of thumb when compiling the montage for the video resume is that you have about 10 seconds to get their attention. I cannot tell you how many news directors said they knew within the first few moments of seeing a reporter’s reel if they wanted to hire them. The same can be said for media pitching – especially when speaking with the people behind the assignment desk. Each day the assignment desk receives literally hundreds of emails, phone calls and (in my day) faxes. That’s a lot of information, so when you call be mindful of their time.
- Give them a reason to care. I remember critiquing each and every live shot and story I put together to determine if it was good enough to be included on my escape tape. Was it visually compelling? Demonstrative? Engaging? Those same questions can be applied when talking to the media about a story idea. Make sure you are offering them a visual component – especially for television. Succinctly highlight the reasons they should care about your pitch. Does it have a personal element or offer new and exciting information that appeals to their audience? If it does, make sure you spell it out for the journalists. If not, you should probably revisit the pitch.
- Highlight your personality. Yes, this might seem a little odd, but I always included lighter moments in my reel to showcase who I am as a person, not just as a journalist. This too can be applied the next time you pick up the phone and call the media. After all, it’s all about developing relationships with the media. Get to know them and the next time they see your number on caller id or name in an email, they will more likely to pay attention to it.
So, what did my montage look like? Take a look.