Dos and Don’ts of Pitching a Features Editor

March 8, 2011
by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire’s Features National circuit and Feature Topic Series can help distribute your press releases, but how do you create an effective story that will appeal to a features editor? I reached out to Katie Aberbach of the Washington Post Express and Katy De Luca of the Washington Examiner to find out the dos and don’ts of pitching a feature editor.

Katie Aberbach

Katie Aberbach is a feature editor for the Washington Post Express‘ Lookout, Weekend Pass and Digs sections. According to Aberbach, a good feature is “a human interest story, something the average reader can relate to.” The best feature stories are when you become invested in what you’re reading or when you can tell that the reporter truly enjoys what he or she is writing about. When it comes to getting ideas for feature stories, “press releases do help out a lot because there is no way you can know everything new that’s coming out,” she said. “Tell me about your new product, television show and book and offer a source to comment on it.”

When it comes to writing your press release, she suggests the following:

  • Do break up the story and summarize key information into bullet points.
  • Do include links to other trend stories and think of what visuals would work for your story.
  • Don’t forget the hook. Even though you’re pitching a feature story, a hard news hook is still valuable. Say why I should care right away. Naming the names is really important.

Katy De Luca

Katy De Luca is the features editor of the Washington Examiner. For De Luca, the best feature stories are ones that appeal to the Examiner audience. “I look at all pitches and think about what will be most interesting to our readers. I think about what they would want to read and what is the best way to get the information to them,” she said. Most of the story ideas come from the writers De Luca works with. She also reads a variety of media and if a topic grabs her attention, she’ll forward the lead to one of her freelancers.

When pitching a feature reporter or editor, De Luca recommends these points:

  • Do include as much information as possible in the subject line and personalize your pitch. Provide all basic details. Simple is better.
  • Do periodically ask the person you are pitching to what sort of things they are looking for. Communication is a key part of the process.
  • Don’t send long-winded e-mails with attachments.

For more suggestions on how to help get your feature news noticed by the media, check out these Features News Tips. You can also contact our features department at features@businesswire.com for additional writing tips and story suggestions.


Land Your Features Story in the New York Post

August 18, 2010

Tips from Daily Features Editor Mackenzie Dawson

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

Mackenzie Dawson

Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor, New York Post

I recently had a chance to talk with Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor of the New York Post. Having worked in the PR industry, Dawson fully understands the challenges publicists face when it comes to working with the media. She has offered up some great tips on public relations best practices and shares some essential tactics to use in your next media relations campaign.

According to Dawson, developing relationships with reporters is one of the most important strategies in public relations. “With publicists, it should really be about targeted relationship building instead of cold calling. My ideal publicist is one who has really gotten to know me over time and has a good idea of the kind of news I cover.”  Dawson says the best way to start building a relationship is to send good, thoughtful pitches that are cleverly written and concise. Once a relationship has developed, a trust factor can be built up and she will respond favorably to your pitches.

“A good publicist might send me a pitch six times a year instead of every week, but their batting average is higher,” Dawson continues. “They’re not sending me stories that are not relevant to what I cover.” She covers human interest stories, so sending a business story is definitely not going to work. It is also not a very good idea to pitch a story that has already been covered in another publication.

Dawson’s experience in the PR world has taught her a lot about the “dual client system.” Public relations practitioners have their clients they have to please, as well as the journalists they are trying to woo. When she worked in public relations, one of the things that bothered her the most was when her manager would always tell her to make as many phone calls to as many different media outlets as possible. Now that Dawson is on the other side of the fence, she realizes that technique just doesn’t work; all you end up doing is frustrating the journalists. Be sure to put more emphasis on quality, not quantity.

To put it briefly, Dawson compares working with the media to dating. She’s like the person you are trying to date; if you are interesting, then she’ll get back to you!


For more tips on how to put together a great feature news story, check out the Feature Writing Tips at BusinessWire.com.


Valentine’s Day Features

January 14, 2010

Valentine's candy

Did you know that Valentine’s Day sections are one of the largest sections the media runs annually, even after Santa returns to the North Pole?  Or that the National Retail Federation estimates the size of the Valentine’s Day market at more than $14 billion?

That, according to Hallmark, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually?  That 58 million pounds of chocolate candy, at a total of $345 million, will be sold in the week before Valentine’s Day?

Now is the best time to help out Cupid and prepare your Valentine’s Day feature . Tell section editors about the latest gifts, trends or expert advice you want to promote and keep consumers in-the-know.

If you have a good story to tell, Business Wire will be sending two Valentine’s Day feature news packages to the media this year. Copy for these topics is due January 15 and January 26th.

Find out more about our Features Topic Series packages at http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/features/.

And if you’re covering Valentine’s Day in your publication, broadcast or blog, be sure to sign up to receive Business Wire’s customizable news feed service via PressPass so you don’t ever miss a story.

(Photo: Denise Cross/Flickr)


Charlotte-Area Communicators Discuss Best Practices for Feature Releases

October 9, 2009

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Business Wire Charlotte hosted a breakfast on September 29th in Greensboro, NC to discuss “All Things Feature Release.” The discussion, led by Greensboro-area PR and media professionals, revolved around the best practices for getting your feature news noticed. The panel of speakers included:

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Always try to spin a local angle into your features article.
  • Always include multimedia. Even if an editor doesn’t have time to write an original article about your story, they can fill space with your photo and caption.
  • It is never to early to send in a features release. Some Features editors plan months ahead, you should plan in advance, too.
  • If you plan to email a features article to an editor, don’t forget the basics in email etiquette. Save the cute headline for the release. The subject line should show basic info.
  • Make your features story evergreen. Make it timely tomorrow and timely six months from now (except for obviously seasonal topics).
  • Local papers don’t have enough staff to write a story for you. Provide the whole package for them: local angle, multimedia, quotes.

Don’t forget to check out Business Wire’s Feature Topic Series.

Local Business Wire offices host several events each year on PR, IR, SEO & media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Upcoming Business Wire Events – September 22 Edition

September 22, 2009

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Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

All Things Feature Release

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte

Join Business Wire for breakfast in Greensboro and a panel discussion on the latest trends in feature articles and lifestyle news. Learn about how to effectively write and pitch feature stories and what newspaper and magazine editors look for in a feature story. Our panel of local communication professionals and feature editors includes Mary Leigh Wallace, Vice President of RLF Communications, Susan Ladd, Features Editor for the News & Record and Gerri Hunt, Managing Editor for Kids Today Magazine. This event is free for Business Wire members and $10 for non-members.

Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30am ET
Emerald Event Center
200 E. Wendover Ave., Greensboro, NC 27405
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Hayworth at angela.hayworth@businesswire.com or call 704-347-1590 by Thursday, September 24

Press Releases: The Road Not Taken

Hosted by Business Wire Nashville

Add more life to your press release. Join Business Wire Nashville for this educational workshop that will show you how to partner your text release with multimedia, stylistic elements and SEO techniques, the “road not taken” that can earn you big media results. This event is free for all attendees.

Tuesday, October 13 at 11:30am CT
Courtyard by Marriott
1901 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37203
To register: Please RSVP to Denise Higgins at denise.higgins@businesswire.com or call 615.661.6123 by Tuesday, October 6

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Upcoming Business Wire Events – March 23 Edition

March 23, 2009

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Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

Biotech Reporting: Meet the Media Covering the Emerging Industry

Hosted by Business Wire San Francisco

Join Business Wire San Francisco and a panel of biotech editors for our Conference Series Media Breakfast. Ian Malcolm, Head of Membership Development at BayBio, moderates a panel including Marcus Wohlsen, Biotech Reporter, The Associated Press; Ron Leuty, Biotech Reporter, San Francisco Business Times; and Andrew Pollack, Health Editor & Deputy SF Bureau Chief, Bloomberg News. The panel will share and discuss how they report on the players and the emerging industries in the Bay Area, and add their perspective on this important topic. Attendees will come away with an enhanced understanding of best practices in biotech media relations. This event is free for Business Wire and BayBio members & $15 for non-members.

Tuesday, March 24 at 8:30am PST

Business Wire SF Headquarters
44 Montgomery Street, 32nd Floor Bay Room, San Francisco, CA 94104

To register: RSVP to Sandy Donnelly at Sandy.Donnelly@BusinessWire.com or call 415.986.4422, ext. 561 by Friday, March 20th.

Meet the Media: Communicating During the Recession

Hosted by Business Wire Newport Beach

Join Chris Meyer, Deputy Editor at the Orange County Register; Sarah Tolkoff, Tech Reporter for the Orange County Business Journal; and Michele Gile, News Reporter for CBS 2/KCAL 9 for a discussion and Q&A on business trends and opportunities for your company to increase its exposure to the media, with a focus on how to communicate with your audiences during this time of economy uncertainty. This is a free event for Business Wire members and is $25 for non-members who RSVP by March 20 and $35 at the door.

Thursday, March 26 at 8am PST
The Island Hotel
690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA

To register: RSVP to NPRSVP@BusinessWire.com by Tuesday, March 24 for early bird price (but admission is available at the door). Call 949.757.1021 with any questions.

Features: What Editors are Looking For and How to Write a Successful One

Hosted by Business Wire Atlanta

Nedra Rhone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nicole D. Smith from Atlanta Woman and Stephanie David of skirt! headline a panel of editors discussing how to enhance your communications program by learning more about the value of an effectively written Features news release. Learn what materials editors find most useful and how they make decisions about what copy to use. This is a free event for Business Wire members and $20 for non-members.

Thursday, March 26 at 11am EST
Anthony’s Restaurant
3109 Piedmont Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30305

To register: RSVP by March 23 to Yasmine Holmes at Yasmine.Holmes@BusinessWire.com or call 770.667.7500.

Social Media & IR: What to Look Out For (NIRI Luncheon)

Hosted by NIRI-Arizona – Business Wire Phoenix’s Malcolm Atherton Featured Speaker

Join Business Wire Account Executive & New Media Specialist Malcolm Atherton at this month’s NIRI-Arizona luncheon for a discussion on using social media to enhance business communication. The program will discuss best practices for integrating social media tools, which are constantly changing, into IR communications. Atherton will present case studies and hold an open discussion on this important subject. This event is free for NIRI-Arizona members and $35 for non-members.

Friday, March 27 at 11:30am MST
Capital Grille
Biltmore Fashion Park, 2502 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

To register: RSVP by Tuesday March 24 to Heather Beshears at hbeshears@cox.net or call 480.628.0578.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.


Business Wire & NAPS Team for Enhanced Feature News Distribution

January 19, 2009

naps-gold-logoBusiness Wire is bolstering our industry-leading feature wire service! We’re combining our exceptional online distribution network with the reputation of longtime leading mat release distribution provider NAPS to offer the best service possible.

Mat releases have become increasingly popular in recent years because they are written in a special editorial format and provide camera-ready artwork that newspapers and special interest magazines can print with very little editing. Business Wire and NAPS will send lifestyle stories such as consumer interest, health, food, home and holiday to more than 11,000 media outlets.

Our partnership with NAPS will guarantee clients a minimum of 100 placements for each article. This unique service is intended to allow members to share their feature news with a widespread audience, but also to add value by assuring placement.

To learn more about our partnership with NAPS and to view upcoming subjects for our Feature Topic Series, please visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/features.


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