How to pitch to a Journalist
Pitching to a journalist is a crucial part of the PR process and an absolute necessity to get the most out of your campaigns.
There are a few things to consider but once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be off and running to media success!
Ideas are key
The stories that make the news have the common ability to be remembered, but it all starts with an idea and that means imagination is key. It requires work but is hugely beneficial because in a time of information overload, we all still love a good story. They grab the attention, if only for a short while, but whatever the tale they have to offer something a little different to readers.
If you’re crafting a story to send to the media, think about who you are aiming it at. The story should only go to journalists with an audience likely to be interested, otherwise it will be considered spam - so check that you are sending it to the right journalist at the correct publication for your target market. For instance, a sports reporter will not want to hear about a new vacuum cleaner that can be programmed to clean the house via a mobile phone.
Publications, media outlets, call them what you will, receive countless stories every day and only the best and most relevant in their considered opinions will be used. Therefore, pitching is vital, but even then with the best pitch possible, your tale may fall on rocky ground. It is about shots on target. You’ll get a lot of rejection, but remember that is all part of your learning curve. The more you do, the more experienced you will become, and the more results you’ll achieve.
How to pitch
So, here are our top 5 tips to gain more media coverage:
1) Have a strong headline?
Take time to think of something that will make the journalist want to open your email. Make it so enticing, so they want to read more!
2) Use email?
Emails are still far and away the favoured method for journalists to receive pitches. Email is less intrusive than most and is a handy reference point. Twitter is growing in popularity too, if you can’t email. But try to always respond in the way a journalist asks you to, which is usually email unless it’s urgent. If they have specified a preferred reply method then use that to reply - never, never harass them on social media or elsewhere it will get you nowhere and probably irritate the journalists you are trying to befriend!
3) Has your story got a human interest angle?
Can people really engage with what you have to say? The reader/viewer has to relate to those involved and gain a strong emotion from what they’re reading.
4) Is it relevant?
Again, think of the readership. Is it relevant to them? What’s good for teenage girls might not be so interesting to women in retirement. Think again, exactly who the story is targeted at?
5) Get the timing right
If it is a time sensitive story, then get it out ASAP. For instance, if it’s about an event this coming Monday and it's Friday you have probably left it too late. Always plan ahead. Piecing together editorial calendars is a great way to pre-plan every opportunity you can.
Even with all the factors above, stories sometimes just might not be picked up, but don’t let that dispirit you. PR is all about persistence, you will get there!
Remember, if a journalist likes your tale and the way you have communicated with them has been effective and respectful they will often keep your details on file and offer you coverage for another story some other time.
As we say, “oiling the media wheels takes patience, charm, and respect.” Stick with the programme and the results will come!