“I see so many good ideas that get lost because people don’t quite know how to pitch the story. We really rely on our readers to be our eyes and ears for the best stories out there”
Gail Rosenblum is Editor of the Inspired Section at the Minnesota Star Tribune where she explores solutions to societal problems, profiling Minnesotan changemakers and problem solvers doing heroic and heart warming things under the radar.
We asked her for her top tips on how to approach journalists with your local community project.
How do you like to be contacted?
EMAIL IS GREAT. But it’s FINE to call me. I hardly get any phone calls anymore (or actual letters!) so you’ll definitely get my attention that way…but it’s actually best to email me because often I will see a story that’s not right for me, and I can forward it on for consideration to my colleagues.
When does a pitch via email get your attention?
I look at EVERYTHING that comes into my mailbox but most things end up in my deleted file. Those typically come from PR agencies (sometimes not even in Minnesota) who clearly don’t know the mission of Inspired and are basically hoping something sticks…The KEY elements I seek out are:
IS IT A MINNESOTA STORY? (once in a while, I’ll feature someone who is from here, or who graduated from one of the colleges here and is doing good work in other places, but that’s rare).
IS IT FRESH? I feel like such an ogre, but stories about people running races/canoeing/biking etc. for a good cause are NOT unusual…that’s the beauty of a philanthropic place like our state.
A few recent examples that I jumped at the opportunity to cover: A high school graduate who played tennis figured out how to donate thousands of unused tennis balls to senior centers around the state for use with walkers (LOVE THAT!) and a group of fifth graders who started a Kindness Club….They’re the kind of stories that have readers saying: DID YOU SEE THAT STORY ABOUT….
I also have to avoid people overcoming illnesses, (or organ donation stories) because it’s impossible to pick just one (I know. I sound awful saying that.)
Are there things people do regularly that put you off?
A few people out there pitch me WAY too much — I mean, sometimes every week with every possible client they have. I just push delete most of the time. And know my section – read INSPIRED and understand our elements.
Read more tips for getting your local PR right in our how-to guides:
Credits header photo: Jon Tyson