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Inside WSJ: Pitching the Mother Lode

The Wall Street Journal’s Legal Bureau launched in 2006 with two or three reporters. Now the team is six to seven deep, and represents the mother lode for PR professionals pitching pieces on legal affairs.

Gorkana Group, the premier global media intelligence agency, recently hosted a panel with Joanna Chung, Bureau Chief, and Ashby Jones, Reporter and Deputy Bureau Chief.

Gorkana hosted an exclusive media briefing with WSJ Law Bureau reps Joanna Chung & Ashby Jones on March 11, 2015.

They recommended the following steps for scoring coverage by The Wall Street Journal:

1. Pitch an exclusive. Nothing is more tempting.

2. Send a very short pitch that is easy to skim. Keep it concise.

3. Send an interesting story even if it’s not directly related to the legal bureau. Reporters there can see that the pitch gets to the right reporter.

4. Remember that nearly every newsworthy story has a legal angle. Remember the Chris Christie George Washington Bridge scandal? A woman died of a heart attack when medical personnel could not reach her because of the gridlock. Are Port Authority employees responsible for her death?

5. Make sure to read The Wall Street Journal and know what they cover, how, and what they have covered in the past. A poor pitch means all future pitches will receive less attention.

6. Give the pitch time to breathe. Don’t hound reporters with relentless phone calls, and don’t follow-up an email pitch with a phone call five minutes later. Send the pitch to one reporter, not everyone in the bureau.

While harvested from reporters at The Wall Street Journal, these tips work for any outlet. If you already have friendly relations with a reporter, ask her or him to review a pitch and offer constructive feedback. Take it graciously. Pitching is not a natural for everyone, but practice helps.

Susan Kostal is a legal marketing and media coach specializing in the Bay Area legal industry. Find more great content on Twitter @skostal.

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