Once you’ve mastered how to draft the perfect press release it’s time to reopen your PR toolbox to utilize a different skillset: media pitching.
Not every pitch will result in a story, but with the right media relations approach, you can increase your chances of getting a reporter interested in either sharing your story, including your client’s “voice” in a story or at least mentioning it within a broader story.
Here are the key elements to creating a successful media pitch:
1. Identify Your Recipients
Choosing who to send a pitch to is a critical first step. Identify the publications, websites or broadcast outlets that regularly cover the subject matter or industry related to your client. Then carefully identify the specific journalist, producer or assignment desk editor most likely to cover the story. Always direct your pitch to a specific person and this may seem obvious, but triple-check that you spell their name correctly.
In the case of a reporter, know his or her beat and the news organization’s audience. Show them you did your homework by personalizing your message (it helps to reference a recent story they wrote/produced that’s related to what you’re pitching). Customizing the smallest details in your pitch can really go a long way.
2. Make Your Pitch Newsworthy
Journalists, editors and producers receive pitches all day, every day, all of which claim to be important and timely. The quickest way to a reporter’s or editor’s heart is to provide one or more of the following:
- An exclusive – either a story or sought-after interview
- An advance on a story that will be released later to everyone else
- A strong tie-in with the biggest story of the day
- Memorable visuals
Make your pitch stand out by putting in a little extra work and creativity. Find a new angle on a story that no one else is doing, and be clear in your pitch about why this story is relevant to their audience.
3. Understand the Audience
While journalists, editors and producers are your pitching target, their stories must be attractive to their specific audiences. Your pitch should be relevant to both groups. Understanding what type of news an outlet produces and tailoring your pitch to fit that will give you a leg up on others who didn’t take the time to truly understand the audience.
4. Pique Their Interest
Your subject line is the first thing media will see. If it doesn’t catch their eye, it will get lost with the hundreds of other pitches they receive each day and may never get opened. Get creative and think of an interesting subject line to intrigue journalists to want to know more. Construct your subject line as a tease that will entice the recipient to read the rest of your email.
5. Send It Out
With everything above checked off your list, you’re ready to hit send. Timing is critical to any successful story placement. For best results, avoid sending your pitch first thing Monday morning or later Friday afternoon.
As you build relationships with media and start learning their deadlines, avoid sending a pitch when they’re up against a deadline. Not all news outlets have the same deadlines. Sending a pitch during a TV station’s newscast won’t get you far unless you’ve got a breaking story you think they’ll want to get in the broadcast right away.
6. Follow Up
If you don’t hear back, don’t be discouraged or give up. Instead, give it some time and send a friendly follow up email. But be aware that too many follow ups will irritate the gatekeepers. While there is no formal rule on when to move on, after one or two unsuccessful tries, it’s best to let this one go and look forward to the next pitch opportunity.
Congratulations! With your polished release from our Ultimate Press Release Guide and your thoughtfully crafted pitch, you’re ready to secure some great stories.
Though writing is subjective and there isn’t only one way to craft a pitch, these best practices can guide you to better writing and media relations practices.
Learn more about our media relations and PR capabilities.
Integrated Media Consultant Ed Garsten and Account Executive Tracy Wolf contributed to this post.