Freelance journalists should not really be pitched the same way as staff journalists.
Here are some tips for PRs and press officers who are approaching freelance journalists. Freelancers are not employed by publications or websites on a permanent basis. They may contribute a set number of pieces a week or just be called on as an extra pair of hands.
They often add a lot of value by writing more in-depth stories, while staff journalists may have to focus on getting news stories out.
So it’s probably not a great idea to send them releases as editors will rarely call them up to write up a straightforward news story if they have in-house journalists.
Also, there is little point in pitching a freelancer with content like ‘5 biggest cyber hacks for 2020t!’ if you are also sending it to the staff writers that the freelancer works with.
Freelancers are often time-poor and really don’t want to discuss a release that you have also sent to staff journalists on the publications s/he freelances for. The moral here, send content early and as an exclusive to see if the freelancer wants it. I don’t know many that use press releases unless it’s for the background.
Some freelancers have special releases@emails and I really wonder do they ever go there?
What freelance journalists like are tips they can develop and work on. Industry trends, interesting data and case studies are very useful as they can be used in features.
Stop with the invites to meet your MD! Unless there is something that can be turned in to a story, freelance journalists don’t have the time to meet and greet as they are paid for their writing.
They also don’t have forward features so definitely don’t ask for one. Actually, fewer and fewer publications are planning ahead like the old days.
If they send out a #journorequest and ask you to be specific in the subject line….so that they can find your response easily, please do what they say.
Also, do understand that once a freelance has filed the story, they probably don’t know when it’s going to run. It may be better talking to the publication directly on that one.