Cont’d: And now Part II of How To Pitch Writer/Editor Extraordinaire, Chris Kuhn (click here for Part I)…
Chris Kuhn is a freelance writer and editor who loves a good story and is convinced that everybody’s got a compelling one to share – you just have to know where to find it. She’s a regular contributor to several online and print publications including TampaBaySkirt.com, 83 DegreesMedia.com, Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine and Tampa Tribune special sections. When she’s not telling stories through feature articles or blogs, she enjoys working with business owners to help them carve out their own stories through marketing messages, web content, advertorials, press releases and more. Chris lives in Wesley Chapel with her husband Larry and personal assistant Dexter, a 13-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua. For more info about Chris or to read samples of her work, go to www.ckuhntampabay.com.
Beat/Section: Community writer through local profiles, event calendar coordination and blogging at www.TampaBaySkirt.com (former editor of the print publication skirt! Tampa Bay that appeared in the Bay area from 2008-2009)
What best practices can you share with people who pitch you?
Remember my mission: I want to inspire, educate and interest my readers, mostly a female audience. I’m not looking to advertise to them. If in the process they learn about your client and her products and services and are interested in learning more, then they will click on the link to her site and pursue it. But my objective is to provide compelling copy. So if you could just send the press release once and only once, and sure, if you don’t hear from me, follow up one more time within a month. But beyond that, don’t keep sending me releases on the same person unless there’s been some kind of update about this person’s story. That’s just not professional and is a big turn-off.
Also, once I do agree to do a story about your client, I welcome your initial information and if you’d like to help coordinate the phone interview itself or assist by providing photos on file, that would be great, but it really then becomes about me interviewing your client and that’s it. I will keep any PR person in the loop as to any last minute needs, how the interview went and a link when the story runs. So I won’t leave you out of communication but at that point, you’ve done your job – it’s time to step aside and let me tell your client’s story.
One last thing – no, we don’t share stories with your clients or PR contacts before they run for approval or changes. That is simply not a common editorial practice, and you will find that across any media outlet unless they are producing an advertorial or other type of advertising piece for you. This is editorial content, not advertising, so there is no approval process. However, we are producing online content and if for some reason or another, you do feel there is something inaccurate with what has been posted, the person being featured would just need to get in touch with me and let me know, and if a correction is in order, I’ll certainly take care of things quickly and professionally. This is the beauty of online editorial content.
What makes a person or product stand out when s/he or it is introduced to you?
I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I expect that in order to pitch me the person must be so innovative or saintly that they must be Madame Curie or Mother Theresa. But for that person to be considered, they must have a compelling personal reason behind why they’re doing what they are doing or offer something so beneficial or interesting, that I feel I must share it with my readers.
When there’s a product being pitched, do you prefer that samples be sent to you?
If we’re featuring the woman behind the product and it’s something where a sample needs to be seen or checked out to better understand the woman (like a book, for instance), that’s always helpful but in most cases, it’s not necessary. In those rare instances, the product would need to be requested by me first and at that time, I’d share a mailing address. But no products should be simply sent unsolicited.
Additional comments from Chris: When in doubt, ask me. Send me an email and ask me before you develop a full-scale pitch. I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as possible. (You lucky folks! Here’s Chris’ e-mail! firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember her mission!)
I also welcome calendar event suggestions, at least a few weeks before the event is occurring and I’ll do my best to put them on the calendar if I feel that our skirt! audience would be interested in that kind of event. In particular, charity events such as benefit galas, fun fundraisers and other campaigns where people can have fun while doing something good for folks in the community, are very popular with skirt! readers. I also like to encourage our women entrepreneurs to get out there and mingle with each other, so I welcome unique networking events or seminar/learning opportunities that provide a chance to learn while meeting others.