When your business has news to share, the key to earning media coverage lies in your pitch. In this video, and the article that follows, Emily Richett breaks down 5 essential steps for pitching a story that journalists will actually want to cover.
Use the Preferred Method
Editors, producers, and reporters only want to receive your pitch in one form: email. You’re busy, and so are they. Stick to email in order to respect their time. This lets them to check out the pitch when they’re ready – not just when you are.
It’s a good idea to just assume your initial attempt will go unanswered. Plan to follow-up. We book more than 80% of our earned media in the follow-up.
Find the Right Person
You don’t want to just pitch anyone.
You need to make sure you’re pitching the right person.
This will require a little homework. Read the publication or watch the news show you’re pitching and indentify the reporter or writer that covers your niche. Then check out more of their work and get familiar with their style. Make sure you’re on the right track before reaching out.
Most news outlets, like other businesses, have a formula for employee email. It’s usually a combination of first and last names or initials + the news station address handle. For example: Emily Richett is email@example.com. Sally Beth would be Sbeth@fox17online.com.
If you can find the email address for one person at that outlet, you can usually figure out the email for anyone at the company.
Another place to check is on social media. Journalists will often include their emails in their bio pages. Of course, you can always utilize a paid media database like Cision or Muckruck, as many firms (including ours) do. Be aware, though, this isn’t necessarily an easier solution- it still requires work and research to create media lists and to personally pitch the right people.
The Shorter, the Better.
Reporters have hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pitches filling their inboxes daily. Keep your pitch concise and lead with the most important information. Remember, you’re making a pitch, not sharing your whole bio. Cutting to the chase is not only thoughftul, it shows that you understand what they care about and look for in a story.
Have a Hook
At every point of your pitch, imagine the person on the receiving end is saying, “so what?” It’s your job to make sure they find an answer.
Your business has an event coming up…so what? Thousands of other businesses do too. Your pitch needs a hook, something that will make the reporter’s audience care about the story you’re giving them. Try to tie your pitch into something timely.
Is there a big national story you can localize?
Does it fit into the natural seasonal calendar, major holidays, or even those cooky invented holidays (national craft cider day, anyone?)? Local TV stations especially love these.
Use numbers and statistics to help make your story more impactful. If there’s a big number tied to your story, chances are, it will make it more newsworthy- so lead with it!
These connections help make your pitch relevant and timely.
Pitch & Learn
You can learn about best practices for pitching, read all the articles, and study the latest expert advice. But the best way to learn what works best is to dive in and actually try it! And then test, and test some more.
Pitching the media is an art. It takes experience, a keen sense of judgement… and a good dose of luck and perfecting timing goes a long way, too.