Mark Leibovich’s “Journalism Tips” Provide Valuable Insight on Reaching Targeted Audiences


It’s rare to get a reporter ‘on-the-record,’ but the New York Times’ Mark Leibovich has done just that in Benjamin Mullen’s recent piece in Poynter. In the interview, Leibovich gives his “5 journalism tips,” which have broad implications – beyond journalism – for anyone trying to reach targeted audiences.

Leibovich, who examined the current state of Inside-the-Beltway journalism in last year’s This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital, urges journalists to “think carefully about your pitches” to gain access to sources.

“Thinking carefully” about pitches means doing your homework, looking at motivations, and the other careful, often personalized, due diligence groundwork necessary before engaging in a conversation with a target audience. As color on this point, Leibovich recounts some personal anecdotes about seeking interviews with notoriously elusive subjects, including an interview that was finally secured with Sen. Mark Rubio by taking him to a Miami Dolphins game. Research, Leibovich notes, is an important but often overlooked component of audience targeting.

This goes beyond reporter-source conversations and can apply to organizations, and even communications professionals, looking to define their target audiences and then communicate effectively to them. Knowing your subject’s likes and dislikes (including their favorite football team) can help make an audience more receptive to outreach.  That’s why companies do market research to gain a competitive advantage when determining and communicating with their audience.  Before companies can have a public “conversation” with customers, research can help hone the language and develop the “angle,” as Leibovich notes.