So, you’ve got a story, you’ve written a great press release, and now it’s time to pitch it to get your story covered in the media - but what is pitching, and how is it done well?
Pitching is like cold calling for public relations where you contact a journalist by email, phone, or sometimes social media to get their interest in covering your story,
How do you do it well? Use our top 8 tips below on how to be “Pitch Perfect.”
1. Include essentials
For your media pitch to work, you must have a great news story about your business and have a quality press release including statistics or evidence of your viewpoint that communications this story. Highlight your top 3 points in an email above the release and ensure you have your contact details and available time/s for spokesperson for the media to contact.
2. Time it right
Timing is so important when it comes to pitching a story. Most journalists prefer to receive pitches in the morning so they can discuss the story in their early-mid morning meeting. Knowing when their print deadlines are and ensure your pitch allows time for your story to be published whilst it’s timely. Each publication has different print deadlines depending on if they are a daily, weekly or a longer lead glossy magazine. Make sure you don’t try and pitch a story when someone is on their deadline. Likewise, if you’re pitching to TV or radio, make sure the program isn’t on air as your pitch will end up being missed in the chaos.
3. Make it Relevant
No journalist will take a pitch seriously if they think it has been sent to hundreds of other journalists – they want to be the first to tell your story. Explain why your idea is timely, unique, important, and/or of interest to that outlet’s audience. It’s great to do your research i.e. consume the media you are pitching to beforehand, so you can link your pitch to things they've written before or themes they've shown an interest in.
4. Make your point quickly
Summarise the main points of your press release in top three dot points and make sure it’s applicable to the journalist in question. Make sure the pitch is well written with no mistakes and before you rush to hit send, make sure you check, check, and check again!
5. Make it exclusive
In the times of shrinking newsrooms we find it can be better to select one key media outlet to cover your story rather than a scatter gun approach. Newspapers, in particular, will often expect to get first dibs on running a story, so think carefully about who you pitch to first. And be honest - they'll take a dim view if you promise them an exclusive only for them to see a rival outlet running a story the same day. Think about offering a different angle or interview before you release your story to everyone else - that way they get a first without compromising anyone else's interest, and your story is covered more widely across multiple types of media over a sustained period of time.
6. Arrange ‘talent’ & availability
When you pitch a story, you need ‘talent’ – that is a spokesperson for your business. Ideally your spokesperson will be confident, engaging and knowledgeable…and a bit of passion goes a long way! You need your talent to be readily available for interview for the couple of days after pitching and the best talent know their key messages and know how to prioritise the media. Spending time working on the top two - three key messages your talent can use in interviews will prevent poor performance and ensure your story is told well.
7. Provide photos or video
Time is money in all businesses and as news budgets get tighter if you can provide supporting materials like vision of your process and images of people that help tell your story you will have more success as you save time for the news team.
8. Follow up
If you don’t hear back from an editor or writer within a few days, don’t give up hope. Send a friendly follow-up email to jog their memory or, give them a call or text. If they're not interested, thank them for their time and move on. Don't take it personally if you aren’t successful first time - deadlines, big breaking news stories or just not quite fitting with the day's agenda are all factors that may mean your story isn't given the priority you think it deserves. Look at your pitch and try again in a few weeks if it’s still relevant.
If you’d like help with creating a story, selecting which media to approach, or pitching your stories to media, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org