Pitching a story to the media can be daunting. But where failure often occurs is in the preparation of the right pitch idea and the packaging up of that idea for the individual journalist. It’s so easy just to cut and paste your standard press release and send it to a list of journalists in one go, but that almost never results in coverage, and often in annoying and alienating yourself from the very people you should to be making friends with.
To be successful it’s critical to tailor your pitch to each publication and journalist as you go. No blanket emails. A journalist wants to see that you understand his or her publication and can tailor your story accordingly. Here are the top tips to adhere to if you want a coverage-winning pitch.
- It has to be newsworthy. Journalists are customers of your news – of the 50 press releases they’ve received that day, why is yours is the most newsworthy? They aren’t suppliers of column inches. It’s an important difference. You have to take a step back from your news and ask yourself “so what?”. Why would anyone want to know this? Is it a first, a biggest or something new that provides a different perspective?
- Include figures and hard facts. If you’re selling in a business growth story, then expecting a journalist to print it without the revenue and growth figures to back it up is ill conceived. Where possible, provide hard facts, research, and monetary amounts to support your argument.
- Provide customer examples. They’re your biggest advocates and are often happy to help. A journalist will always prefer to hear the story from an independent third party than directly from you.
- Get to the point. Fast. A journalist gets hundreds of emails and calls a day, so yours needs to stand out from the crowd. If you state what you need at the top of the email or at the beginning of your call, you’re more likely to get a positive response. No one wants to read a long email to find the request buried at the bottom.
- Know the publication, what audience it has and check it out online. Look at what the journalist has written before – and make sure they haven’t just covered your topic last week, because unless it’s something very new, they’re unlikely to re-run the same piece twice. It’s also worth checking the reporter’s Twitter account if they have one to help you build a profile of their topics or likes and dislikes.
- Be specific. Trade magazines especially know their subjects – they’ve seen and heard it all – so you need to delve further into the detail. Generic won’t wash. Bring a fresh idea or angle to your story.
- Remain professional at all times. Most PRs with years of experience under their belts have had conversations that have ended abruptly, or unhappy, terse journalists on a deadline. Keep your cool and don’t take it personally – remember you’re representing your company.
If you’d like to discuss your PR requirements, get in touch.