From HuffPost and Forbes to Good Housekeeping, many well-known publications have come to rely on freelance writers. Their creativity and connections help editors cover areas that aren’t on their radar. Despite the freedom to pursue a variety of topics, contributors aren’t immune to the issue that’s plaguing all writers: a dip in page views. So, what do can PR pros do to help freelancers?
I had a chance to catch up with Curtis Silver, business analyst and consumer tech writer at Forbes. Having been a freelance writer for nearly 10 years, he shared a few things PR people should keep in mind when working with contributors.
Get some face time
It’s always important to build relationships with reporters, especially with freelancers. Curtis is always open to taking introduction meetings with PR professionals because he wants to get to know the person behind the pitch. Similarly, PR people should take time to learn more about him (his tweets are a place great start), the topics he covers and writing style before reaching out.
Keep pitches short and succinct
When it comes to pitches, Curtis appreciates short emails. He understands each PR person has a story or headline they want to land for clients, but he doesn’t need them to write the entire article for him in the email. Instead, he recommends keeping pitches succinct, short and to the point. Curtis only wants to know what the company or product is and what it does. If he’s interested, he’ll respond.
Respect their time
Contributors typically have more than one job. Their time is split between multiple projects. Just like full-time journalists, they won’t have time to read all their emails. For example, Curtis only has a few hours each day to write his stories. He appreciates a follow-up or two, but it’s important to give him time to review and process pitches before sending a third or fourth email reminder. Even after he has agreed to writing, he may not have time to post a story in two days.
Don’t lean on phone interviews
Curtis rarely takes phone interviews. Most of the time, Curtis will only need one or two quotes (if any) for his story, so the investment it takes to interview someone (coming up with questions, scheduling the call, transcribing the interview, etc.) isn’t worth the hassle. Additionally, because he primarily works as a business analyst, the only time he would be able to interview an executive is after regular business hours.
Freelance writers are invaluable for agency PR pros. Like journalists, they each have a different preference for how they like to work with people. So, take the time to get to know them and learn how you can be a resource.
Senior Account Executive