Frank Chaparro from The Block and Josh Inglis from Propllr PR have a relationship many PR professionals seek to have with journalists. A major focus as a PR pro now revolves around building close relationships with reporters and editors so when the time comes for their client to share news, there's an interested and relevant person waiting to write about it.
How did your relationship start?
Josh: Frank was the fintech beat reporter at Business Insider, and we were working with an awesome startup out of Chicago, so he was a natural fit. The first pitch, though, wasn’t even from me – it was one of the people on my team. But the connection wound up in my inbox because that guy went on vacation, and shortly after my client and I were sitting down with Frank at Maison Kaysor in New York (I confess that I didn’t remember all of this off the top of my head – I had to get in the Gmail way back machine).
Lu: Might have been easier to flag me down as I was a newbie and eager to meet new people. But Josh’s coworker emailed me about a relevant candidate for a casual coffee and I agreed.
How long did it take you to write your first story together?
Josh: It’s something I love about working with reporters – if you bring a good story and a solid client, results can follow quite quickly. That first story came about three months or so from first contact.
Frank: Unsurprisingly, fintech is a hard beat to cover given the number of firms in the space, and the number of firms looking to break in. At the time, I had a policy that I couldn’t write about a firm unless I had actually used the product. As such, my first story was a walk through of the product, which did incredibly well.
Why did you pursue Frank vs another writer?
Josh: Frank was a triple threat. He wrote for an outlet with the right audience, his beat was spot on with my client, and he was incredibly prolific, so we knew that if he liked what he heard, there could be a quick result. Actually, he was a quadruple threat - he was also super engaging and fun to work with right out of the gate.
Why do you think Frank wrote about your client?
Josh: Frank has always been curious and knowledgeable about whatever he covers, and this gives him the ability to see how all of the different parts of his beat come together – how companies compare and contrast, how one group’s success impacts another’s, and so on. Our client was in a hot space, but Frank quickly saw their unique approach to solving investors problems, so he knew it wasn’t just another one of the same.
How did you know Frank was a good fit for your client?
Josh: Finding Frank wasn’t the hardest bit of research we’d ever done. Our client was 100% perfect for his beat.
What advice/recommendations do you have for other publicists?
Josh: Don’t spam reporters. Get to know not just what reporters write about, but why they write about it. What are the common characteristics of their stories? Are they personality driven? News driven? Do they write profiles or trend articles? Read as much of a writer’s work as possible – with real intention – and let that inform your pitching. And last, remember that reporters are people. You can build real human relationships that make the job so much more enjoyable.
What was so interesting about Josh and his client?
Frank: Simple. The product was something I actually thought I would use so I wanted to meet the founder and learn more about it.
What was one thing Josh did well to pitch you?
Frank: I know there is a difference in a story that I really care about and one I have to write. And the same thing applies to PR. Josh only takes on PR clients that he believes in and that makes his pitches better. It’s a characteristic, to be sure, many small boutique shops have. But Josh epitomizes it.
What are some common mistakes most publicists make pitching you?
Frank: Not knowing their clients’ business and not knowing what I am interested in. Being too pushy. Also, don’t be too pushy.
Any advice advice/recommendations for other publicists?
Frank: What sets Josh apart is he can handle the same questions I’d throw at one of his executives.
As a journalist juggling so many different stories at once, I can’t overstate how stressful it is to ping a PR person a question about a pitch and then get a follow-up saying: “My CEO could definitely answer that question, do you have an hour this afternoon to chat?”
Aside from making my life easier, it sets people like Josh up for future success. PR professionals have to establish themselves as industry experts. I know almost inherently that Josh’s clients will know their stuff because he does.
It all starts with that first email response.
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