5 Tips on Pitching to the Media
Business owners need to be able to sell their news to the media and the public if they want coverage. But how do you go about garnering media coverage?
Simple: You have to craft a compelling pitch. But what’s a pitch? A pitch can be as simple as an email to a journalist that sells your story or captures the media’s attention. The point is to have legitimate news to share and a story to tell. A pitch should be informative and tailored to the recipient.
But before you start pitching, let’s cover some basics. Here are five ways to get ahead of the game and into the limelight.
1. Research is key.
Any journalist or publicist worth their salt is a pro when it comes to research. You should be too, especially as you try to figure out who you’re going to pitch. You want to start local, and once you get some traction, go national. Read the publications and watch the shows you want to be on. Not only will this help you figure out who to pitch, but also why and what they like to cover. Once you deem someone worthy of your pitch, add them to a media list with their info such as email, phone, address, Twitter handle, outlet they write for, what they cover and their title.
2. Find something in common.
You already have one thing in common, and that’s your location. Perhaps the journalist you’re pitching to likes spicy Thai food and has an affinity for Roman philosophy. You could use these tidbits to your advantage and use them in a pitch, provided they’re relevant to your news. It’s these insights that are going to help you get the reporter’s attention and hopefully the coverage that you desire.
3. Why should they care?
In other words, what’s in it for the reporter and their audience? You need to think about the intended audience. When pitching your story, it’s best to lead with this and tailor it to that specific journalist. Leading with what’s in it for them will help you catch the eye of journalists, who tend to be very busy. Making your pitch stand out by tailoring it to the media contact and leading with why they should care demonstrates that you understand their outlet and what they cover.
4. Help them envision the story.
Providing journalists with any background information or ideas on how to package a story may convince them to pick up your pitch. It’s best if you have facts and sources that can complement your story. If it’s for broadcast, provide ideas for B-roll or supplemental footage. Remember, it’s all about selling the story.
5. Prepare to pitch.
When you have your targeted media list and pitch in mind, it’s time to reach out. Typically, you want to start local and then go national as you get more press or find a tie-in to a national story. But before that happens, start off by pitching a few key journalists that you’ve researched and keep it simple. Remember to keep it tailored to your contacts.
When it comes to pitching, remember to target select contacts and refrain from sending mass pitches to the media. The media will detest you for this and may even block you. Sending a pitch blast is no longer a pitch — it’s spam known as “spray and pray PR.” It may seem like a good idea, but throwing a wide net over entire swaths of journalists like a fisherman won’t do you any favors. Journalists like to receive tailored pitches — not only will this approach keep you in their good graces, but it’ll help build trust.
So you’ve sent your pitch, you’ve waited a few days and all you hear is crickets? Now, it’s time to follow up. Send a follow-up or two (let a few weeks pass in between) and try to include new info or sources that you think will help flesh out the story. If you still don’t hear back, it’s time to move on and re-strategize your pitch or find another journalist. In this industry, rejection happens all the time, and sometimes they don’t reject you — they just ignore you. Having thick skin helps sometimes.
However, if you do hear back, be sure to respond in a timely manner. If they ask you for something you don’t have or know, tell them you’ll get back to them and do so as soon as possible — you don't want them to lose interest. Follow these tips, and you’ll start to see your work in headlines.
Written by Humbert Luna, Emerging Insider Communications