Danny Wong is a contributor to several big media outlets and is the Media Relations Guru of Blank Label, an ecommerce startup specializing in co-created custom dress shirts.
As a contributor to different media outlets, you easily learn a lot about good Public Relations. If you've ever actually been on the other side of a bad pitch and a good pitch, you can pick out the good qualities and the god awful qualities.
Actually having the perspective of the writer gives you better insights on what makes for an effective pitch and what doesn't, and you gain a lot of other insights you wouldn't have just as a PR Pro.
You appreciate a good pitch vs. a bad pitch
When you have received hundreds of pitches yourself, you quickly realize what makes for a good pitch and what makes for a bad pitch and you start appreciating easily digestible content too. You see 50+ emails in your inbox and you certainly don't want to read all of them. You skim them for the high points, and are more likely to read a pitch if it has bullets and is broken up into short and sweet paragraphs. You cower away from the endless pitches that are more than a few hundred words and quickly hit delete or mark it as unread to return to at a later time.
You become a little more critical of your own communications skills
You start reevaluating how you write pitches and what messages you convey because you now have perspective on what makes for an effective pitch and a compelling story. Your general pitch or basic story isn't going to be interesting to anyone unless it has a really interesting and unique angle. This heightened self-criticism makes you more careful when building out your messages and targeting the right reporters too.
You appreciate media targeting much more
When you get an irrelevant pitch you just cringe at how little research some PR representatives do. You take a bit more time to do your due diligence to figure out exactly what the reporters you are targeting are interested in and make sure you don't pitch your new SaaS startup to a hardware writer on CNET. You will actually spend some more time reading the reporter's past articles before shooting them an email or giving them a call too.
You appreciate timeliness and newsworthiness
Some stories are only good if they are still fresh. Stories get stale really quickly, but if you have interesting content for a follow-up to recent news, that always makes for a good story. So if sources pitch you in a timely manner with relevant news that hasn't been published already, you've got great content for a second story. Let's say we went back to the days right when the iPad released, you'd want to immediately pitch reporters on how your iPad exploded after two hours of use (this is clearly a hypothetical example).
You appreciate honesty and integrity
Let's face it; a lot of PR professionals are spin-masters. They stretch the truth and sometimes tell white lies. But when you're at the receiving end of a lie and end up publishing information that isn't 100% accurate, you look like the fool and you know that source has burned a valuable bridge with you. So when this happens, you reconsider how much you spin stories and the repercussions of stretching the truth too much.
Being on the other side of the coin is an invaluable experience for PR professionals looking to be better at media and blogger relations. You learn how to masterfully craft pitches because you've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and you are more careful in how you communicate your messages. You also do better work when targeting and finding media leads, and ensure you pitch your story in a timely manner. You also make a big effort to ensure that your pitches are newsworthy. Lastly, you make sure that you maintain honesty and integrity when communicating with journalists and media because if you get caught in a lie, you can get into a lot of trouble as well as end a lot of valuable relationships.