Tips for Pitching the Media
Previously, we talked about ways to use breaking news to build buzz for your book or business. If you missed that article, you can catch up here.
Now that you know how to identify opportunities to generate buzz for your book or business, it’s time to pitch the media. On average, the media rejects 95 percent of pitches they get, so to help you capture the media’s attention I’ve created a list of tips to pitch effectively, and how to best work with members of the media once you’ve captured their attention.
Pitching the media
Before pitching, make sure that your topic is a good fit for the outlet you’re pitching. Check out their website or social media accounts to see what type of content they cover. If your topic seems to be a good fit, then it’s time to start pitching!
When pitching the media, it’s important to put your best foot forward. When pitching via email, that means crafting a short, catchy email subject so your email isn’t deleted.
For the body of your email, keep it short! People in the media are busy, and inundated with email. A good rule of thumb is to craft a message that can be read on your computer screen without scrolling down.
When crafting your pitch, it’s important that you are excited about your topic. After all, how do you expect the media to care about your topic, if you don’t? That being said, make sure when you’re aren’t overzealous. Often in order to get noticed, some folks will create a false sense of urgency. And while this might make for a more compelling pitch, it can also make you seem like an unreliable and often excitable source.
Instead, when pitching, it’s your job to present your topic as timely, unique, and relevant to the audience they serve. Make sure that you can sum up your story in just one sentence. Next make sure to highlight the benefits of your topic. What do I mean by that? Help the media understand why this matters to their readers. Why should they care?
One final piece of advice when it comes to media pitching: don’t give up. Remember these folks are bombarded with pitches, so it might take a while to get a response to your pitches, and sometimes (most times) the media won’t respond to you until they have a need for your story.
Working with the media
When it comes to the media, it’s important to remember that you need them, more than they need you. When you do get a response from the media, make sure that you are doing all you can to help them do their job and create a stellar story. How can you do that?
Respond immediately to all media queries -- even if you’re on vacation. If you’re arranging an interview, be flexible and work around their schedule.
When discussing your topic, make sure the media person has all the information he or she needs. For example, in the case of breaking news, or developing stories, make sure they are made aware of new developments. Why? This will save them research time and make them look good!
Speaking of making media look good, this is your job as well. To help them understand your topic, you can give them a set of questions or a synopsis about your book, business, or interview topic.
When conversing with the media, don’t say anything you don’t want to see in print. Assume everything you say is “on the record” even if you ask them to keep it confidential. Assume there is no such thing as “off the record.”
If you are offered an interview, to make the most of this opportunity make sure to avoid these bad habits: using slang or industry jargon and getting off topic. Both of these bad habits can confuse the media person; in some cases, if your interview is too convoluted, you could end up getting a much smaller story.
Finally, I am a big believer in gratitude. Remember, you need the media more than they need you. So, make sure to send a handwritten thank you note to thank them for their time.
Using the tips above, you now have the tools to pitch the media, attract their attention and work with members of the media to effectively generate buzz for your book or business.