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Pitching: An Email Solution

Phil Harvey

11:30 AM -- As a follow-up to Pitching: A Practical Guide, it's worth noting that I didn't really address what to do about sending email pitches to Light Reading's editors. I started to write a tip sheet for email pitches, but I stopped. The whole thing felt silly. Do I really have to remind folks that Light Reading doesn't publish a monthly or weekly magazine?

Rather than complain about all the goofy emails we get, I thought I'd attempt an answer to the question: "How can I make sure a Light Reading editor has read my email about a story that my client wants to tell?"

The solution is a simple form at www.lightreading.com/assignment. For a fleeting moment, you get to be our assignment editor so offer us your best pitch. We'll reply with "No thanks" if it doesn't work for us or we'll ask for more details if it does or if we're not sure when or how to cover the story you've suggested.

Like Twitter, we've placed character limits on some of the blanks in our assignment form. This will help you focus and, we hope, avoid cutting and pasting fluff from your company's publicity releases.

Some tips for using the Light Reading Assignment form:

  1. Focus on our audience, not your client. What is it about your story that suggests ways service providers could make more money, attract new customers, hold on to their current customers, invent new IP-based services, or fend off competitive threats?

  2. Bring on the research. Once you nail tip No. 1, please provide (or help us find) some supporting research. Our Pyramid Research and Heavy Reading groups track dozens of tech trends and hundreds of geographic markets, so those are the best places to start. Other sources we frequently cite include TeleGeography Inc. , Infonetics Research Inc. , IDC , consumer surveys from various groups, and venture capital market data from Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters .

  3. Conflict is king. If NFL games involved only one team, running practice drills with their teammates and not keeping score, no one would watch nor care. If you want any audience in any field to care about anything you're doing, you have to crack some skulls and score points. It helps, too, if the other team hates you.

  4. Characters are welcome. The great Flannery O'Connor wrote: "If you start with a real personality, a real character, then something is bound to happen; and you don't even have to know what before you begin." O'Connor's words were aimed at fiction writers -- please write your own "PR people are fiction writers" joke in the margins of this column -- but they have meaning in this context because a lot of times the only reason a company or technology is interesting is because of the people involved.

Good luck out there, PR people. This won't be as efficient for us as deleting your messages, but we are curious to see how this works out.

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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12/5/2012 | 4:21:02 PM
re: Pitching: An Email Solution

...for both sides, so it works out well.

12/5/2012 | 4:21:02 PM
re: Pitching: An Email Solution

True. And it thins out my inbox. Always a good thing.

If judged solely on their email activities, many high tech PR firms seem slightly less effective than the guys trying to get me to buy prescription drugs from Mexico or to claim an inheritance from a fallen Kenyan leader.


12/5/2012 | 4:21:01 PM
re: Pitching: An Email Solution

Great question. I always ask if a source wants to be in the article (unless they're pitching something about themselves). We tend to assume a source is protected unless they say otherwise. And we'll always ask if we're not sure.

Ben Roome
Ben Roome
12/5/2012 | 4:21:01 PM
re: Pitching: An Email Solution

Can we then expect to see a league table at the end of the year of who's been pitching for certain rumours to be checked out?!

Or are you going to keep the assignments you receive - and their sources - confidential? :(

12/5/2012 | 4:21:00 PM
re: Pitching: An Email Solution

Another thing: Pitch enough good stories over time and I'll start calling you for ideas. That's what I do now with my best sources.

re: Can we then expect to see a league table at the end of the year of who's been pitching for certain rumours to be checked out?!

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