Author: Tom Platt
From being made redundant due to the squeeze of trade media, or deciding to take on the freelance world for greater flexibility or even to explore new avenues, today’s trade journalist must make sure they always have the security of being a key writer in their relevant field.
There aren’t any guarantees for any journalists going freelance. From the off, there is a need to keep up momentum in order to maintain their name in the industry and find work to keep the funds coming in. This may sound like a lot of pressure, but by choice or otherwise, more and more journalists are making the move. For some, the variety is appealing, as is the opportunity to expand their repertoire, whereas others like the idea of working in a more freedom based environment.
In theory, their experience should give them a leg-up as they embark on their freelance journey, but how can PRs help them and in turn, help themselves?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that a freelance journalist who was previously an editorial member of staff most likely has a ‘little black book’ of contacts from across various titles. This gives them an advantage if they pitch to a publication at a later date, not just because of their connection to it, but also due to their flexibility since they may have more time to generate content compared to an in-house writer who has other pressing deadlines.
This helps them eventually expand their network as they start writing for various titles and build up a body of work that represents their knowledge; eventually, they can become someone who has a respected ‘tone of voice’ fit for the industry.
With this in mind, pitching to a freelancer can be appealing. They are able to spot stories, looking from the outside in, and get a unique angle on them too. What’s more, they are often more able to meet pressing deadlines, due to their flexibility – something that can be tricky for an in-house writer who is often pushed to the limit.
Whilst connections to publications may be important to PRs, connections to freelance journalists are equally important. Technology based PR is moving towards a more freelance dynamic and so it’s vital journalist relationships are maintained – a good example: if PRs organise an event, they should keep freelancers on the invite list!
So, a PR professional has got their connections and got a story; what should they do now? Assuming they have a particularly interesting story or one they feel would get their client a significant amount of coverage, the subject and the exclusivity of the story are key aspects to pull through when pitching to a freelancer.
Whilst press releases can be useful, if they provide a lead to an interview or in-depth analysis, this can be far more appealing – it gives the journalist a chance to delve deeper and produce thorough and thought provoking content that publications will want to use.
Taking this into account, it’s important to ensure the pitch has a relevant and tangible angle and sells the idea, not the client. For example, a client may have a new product that could revolutionise the industry, but it’s the product’s effect on markets and the consumer that is more important to a journalist than who provides it.
Ultimately, what a freelancer pitches to a publication is a reflection of what was pitched to them originally – in order to support them, PRs should make sure their pitch is snappy, exclusive and interesting, everytime.