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  • Soumya Nair

How to Pitch a Journalist: A CHARLIE PESTI event at Manifest 2023

Manifest 2023: The Future of Logistics was a premier gathering of innovators, industry leaders, and investors showcasing cutting-edge supply chain and logistics tech. It was a grand success with 3000 + supply chain professionals under one roof, forging new relationships and fostering new strategies to ace the business game.

We were thrilled to have our very own CHARLIE PESTI event kickstart Manifest, with a packed room of CMOs, VP Marketing & Director PR titles wanting to learn “How to Pitch a Journalist?”

The very presence of the number of people in the room reiterated the importance of PR in a business journey and the eagerness with which people want to learn how to build and foster relationships with the media.

Journalists are integral to this; their stories can make or break your company. Hence, we brought three very well-read, versatile journalists into the panel and had them divulge their deepest, darkest PR secrets, best practices and, most importantly, tell us what not to do when engaging them.

The journalists on our panel were: Eric Jhonson, Senior Editor, Technology for the JOC; Grace Sharkey, entrepreneur, writer, and radio host for FreightWaves; and Matt Villano, a freelance journalist for top-tier publications. The moderator was our MD, Priyanka Ann Saini.

Below are a few excerpts from the show:

The perfect press release and pitch

Priyanka: Is there such a thing as the perfect press release or the perfect pitch?

Eric: The reach outs to us should be one-to-one. Rule number one is to email a specific journalist who focuses on something specific rather than send the same email to 20 journalists hoping someone responds.

The same applies to press releases. It's one too many, so you want to get it in front of as many eyes as possible, but the same thing that's going to interest me or, potentially, Grace is not going to interest Matt because of the outlet he writes for and what he's interested in.

So you should use a different tool to reach us than you would to reach him. You may have to create different versions of a press release catered to the audience you're trying to address.

The other thing to emphasize is that it doesn't kill the idea that we will scrutinize the press release and see if it's worth following up on. But the more times I see 'The most,' 'The best,' 'The first,' 'The largest,' 'Never done before,' the more my eyes immediately glaze over, and I have a memory when I see a company or a specific publicist or PR agency using that over and over. So when I see that email come through on the subject blind or the address, it immediately goes to tier two, tier three priority for me because I know you're overselling what's happening.

The promotional brochures and blogs for your company are the place to talk about this is the greatest thing ever created by man. A press release is not the place to do that because you're talking to the world's most cynical people.

A perspective on mainstream media

Priyanka: What is your perspective on tier-one media when people say, okay, I want to be in mainstream media?

Grace: If it does go to tier one, it's free grabs to produce at the same time. I've had situations where most tier ones may have dropped it quicker than expected or released the news faster.

Still, let us know of these situations because, at times, I'm like, this could be great news for our audience. It does feel like often; we're the PR agency helping you with that connection. But, as big as our audiences are, it's personally foolish to have Wall Street or Forbes cover something, especially if it's going to be behind a paywall, and not have that be with such a core audience we both have.

Matt: The dirty secret about tier-one publications, as someone who contributes to them all the time, is that you're going to get a much deeper dive and a much more complete story from the publications that these two people (Eric & Grace) represent.

That is where the best journalism is happening within the silo of an industry. And so if I write a story about trucking, supply chain, or freight, whatever, I will read ten stories of Eric's and ten stories of Graces before I even start reporting. And so, keep that in mind as you pitch stories because those publications are where the real stuff is going on.

And if you have a complicated story, you won't get the space to tell it in the New York Times, CNN, or the Wall Street Journal. But in these publications, you might also get a follow-up story. So, as assets, trade publications become much more valuable on a broader scope.

Importance of a PR Agency

Priyanka: There's one question I cannot resist, so I'm going to take that. Is it beneficial to work with an established PR agency?

Eric: There are maybe eight to ten agencies, and that's grown over the last couple of years, that have taken the time to understand the way I work, taken the time to understand the way my publication works and can channel its clients that are relevant to me and the stories from those clients that are relevant and according to what they know.

So yes, it is not an established PR agency, but one that has demonstrated an ability to connect with the journalists that matter in the market they're trying to reach.

Grace: Yeah. Ditto. A lot of what he just said. Many of these firms know the best way to reach out to me and understand what interests me, especially doing so many different outlets, which could also fall to those different audiences.

The work being brought to me, whether it's the press release, the topic, or the background, and the interview resources are better with a PR agency.

They prep a lot better for those situations. So it's beneficial, and it's the networking aspect too that helps a lot of it as well. For example, we could want to do a story with multiple opinions. And it's easier for me to reach out to an agency I know that works with these types of companies, and they can send me four or five different people I can talk to about that topic compared to having to spend the time reaching out to individual companies here and there. Having a PR agency works better and is more efficient.

This event was an eye-opener for everyone present, as so many questions were answered, and now there is a much better understanding of how journalists work, what it takes to be on their radar, and how to pitch your story.


CHARLIE PESTI is the world’s best PUBLICIST of Shipping, Supply Chain, and Logistics Technologies. Focused on the supply chain and logistics sectors, we pride ourselves on being the only premier, full-service PR, and Marketing agency in the space. We are a global team of passionate and specialized professionals helping clients with Brand Recognition, Media and Public Relations, Content Marketing, Social Media, Web Traffic, and Lead Generation.


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