Patrick Coffee is the Editor of PRNewser, a daily blog published by Mediabistro.com. Coffee and his team write about news, trends, and announcements in PR. He is based in New York.
Here are highlights from our recent conversation:
On contacting him: I get lots and lots of e-mail pitches every day. They come from most of the major PR firms, especially in New York City. Occasionally I’ll get phone calls, but it’s very rare, and that’s a good thing. I personally want e-mail. The more often someone calls me the less likely I am to run their story.
On subject lines: The most important part of an e-mail pitch is having an effective subject line. It has to get my attention without pandering or telling me, ‘I must read this.’ Writing subject lines is a subtle art form. It’s similar to Twitter, where there’s a limited space to get your message across. In terms of tone, convey to me there’s something interesting for me in the e-mail, without being too pushy about it.
On the e-mail pitch: The message has to be very clear and interesting to me. Make it clear to me why my readers would be interested in the story, why does it stand out? E-mail pitches should be personalized, beyond just copying and pasting my name and a greeting. A certain degree of personalization in the first couple of sentences is a very good idea. Tell me why you thought of me for this story and the people who may like this story. What is appealing about it? I always appreciate a quick summary of what the entire story is about in just a couple of sentences.
On building a community through blogging: A lot of my readers come from my Twitter feed. I tweet a lot and that attracts readers. For anyone who blogs, there has to be some degree of interaction. Everyone loves when someone responds to something they say. I’m not a big fan of people begging for attention. If you write a blog you’ll take some satisfaction knowing that people are not just looking at what you do, but that they are thinking about it and that they are responding to it in their own way. You can encourage that by retweeting what they have to say and following them back.
On PR and social media: A lot of people in PR are very familiar and comfortable with social media. One concern is they are too comfortable. When working to promote a client or your own brand, you have to be disciplined in your message. It gets too casual sometimes, like with automated messaging. You want to be sure people know there’s a live person behind your account.
Final thought: Always think multimedia.
PS: Do you want hundreds of tips on news pitches, PR, blogging, and content development? Get my new book, The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication.