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.


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


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