This week Roberto Napolitano, Director Of Marketing and Public Relations, Innovate Finance, sat down with Charlie Conchie, Investment Reporter City AM, at EY Canary Wharf to discuss the best tips and tricks Charlie has for pitching stories to journalists.
Find out about what he gets up to on a typical day and how to make your email pitches stand out in his inbox.
Roberto: Charlie, can you tell us about your day-to-day life as a journalist?
Charlie: Sure. So at City AM we have two shift structures:
- 7am – 4pm, this includes the typically very busy first two hours of the day covering all corporate announcements in the morning. The news we see before 10am typically sets the tone for the day ahead.
- 10am – 7pm, the later of the two main shifts is spent following up with stories to go out in the afternoon and going through press releases and leads to set up for the next morning of news
Roberto: When is the best time to pitch?
Charlie: The timing is crucial when it comes to a pitch landing in our inbox. Our daily news meeting is 11am which is where we all discuss and determine what we’ll be writing about that day.
Of course, there will be some movement in the agenda depending on breaking news later in the day, but it’s best to get your pitches in before 10:30am to give the journalists time to plan the news into their day.
Roberto: How much control does the editor have over the stories you write?
Charlie: The team is actually very reporter led. We’ll bring the stories we want to write about, and usually get to write them.
Roberto: What kind of company announcements catch your eye, and why?
Charlie: So City AM is fundamentally a business tabloid, but with a sense of humour! Despite being business, it also has a very wide readership so we always need to consider whether the majority of readers will find a story interesting. What’s super important to a CEO or business isn’t always as important to a reader, and that’s what we have to decide.
If the company announcement ties into part of a wider trend or the bigger picture of what’s happening in the world, that definitely makes it more appealing to write about.
Roberto: Ok, so we have the story. How can we make a pitch stand out? And what is the best way to contact you?
Charlie: Email is the best way to get in touch with a journalist. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t go off into a black hole once you hit send – as I used to think when I worked in PR!
We do check our emails and almost every press release is read. That being said, it can be useful to get an email chaser to brings stories to the top of our inbox again.
I would also say give us a call, most of us are happy to have a quick chat on the phone. At City AM we’re all on landline, and it’s easier to discuss the direction of a story – or give the feedback that it’s a no – if we’re on the phone.
Roberto: When it comes to email structure, do you have a preference? Should it be short and snappy?
Charlie: Send us copy, and write in plain, accessible language. Anyone should be able to read it once and say, ok, so this is exactly what this company does.
The subject line does make a big difference in grabbing our attention, so my advice would be to write it as a headline to help us envision it as a story.
In the email itself, include 2-3 bullet points to summarise the pitch and then include the pitch below. I would say if you can offer a good spokesperson then get them in front of media – interviews and exclusivity make stories more engaging and this is always what we’re looking for.
Roberto: So who makes a good spokesperson?
Charlie: Someone who will talk about what’s going on in the world beyond their company is always great, and the best thing you can read in a pitch is a spokesperson who can contribute to bigger trends.
Seven Hills is proud to work with Innovate Finance on its latest workshop supporting its members and comms professionals to learn more about media relations. Look out for upcoming events from Innovate Finance on its Twitter feed, and read Charlie’s latest articles in City AM here.