Pitching stories to the media is a bit of an art form and should be included in any public relations plan for an organization. Media relations and having a good rapport with the press is a great way to get free editorial coverage of something you’d like the public, whether general or in your specific industry, to know about. But pitching stories to the media can be challenging. I have had varied successes pitching stories to writers. Early on in my career as a PR professional I got little traction when pitching stories. I took the approach of reaching out to multiple writers via email simply asking if they’d be interested in covering my story. I wouldn’t target anyone specific nor would I craft my pitch specifically to the writer. It was one size fits all and as a result, I’d never hear back. I quickly learned that if I was going to get my stories picked up I was going to have to change my way of thinking. Here are some tips to help with your media pitching efforts to ensure you end up with the ‘perfect pitch’.
Do your homework – Look for specific writers, bloggers and members of the media you’d like to target and get to know them. Follow them on social media and engage with them. Learn what they like and write about most often so you know who to turn to with your next story.
Ditch the email – Ok so not completely but your first contact (after you have already followed them on social media) should be on the phone. Call writers, reporters and bloggers directly. The strategy is simple, it’s very easy to ignore an email but harder to do so with someone on the phone. If you have done your homework from above you should have their contact info, even if you had to direct message them via Twitter or another social media platform to get it. Use email to send them more information after you have talked with them.
Make it easy for them – By framing the story to their perspective you make it easy for the writer to want to cover your story. I’d even go as far as writing a synopsis or even penning the story yourself. Most good writers will appreciate the summary but will not use it verbatim but some smaller media publications that do not have a full time staff or are short on time might just take what you give them and run with it. By making it turnkey you have a better chance of your story being picked up.
Maintain relationships – Your business isn’t one and done so you shouldn’t treat your pitch to the media as a one night stand, never to speak again after your story is published. No, maintain an active relationship with writers and other members of the media. Reach out to them even when you don’t have a story. It’s just like networking, you might end up getting a tip from them as to what they want to write about.
Exclusivity – When appropriate, the offer of exclusivity to your story could be the carrot in front of the horse that moves the media cart. This works especially well in markets and industries where there are multiple media outlets competing for news. After all, who doesn’t like exclusivity? Just make sure that if you offer an exclusive to one writer that you don’t also give it to another. Fair is fair and if you become known for offering bogus exclusives you’re not likely to be taken serious in the future.
Hopefully these tips help with your media pitching efforts. This approach has worked well for me and I suspect will for you as well. I have gotten numerous stories covered for my clients generating tons of exposure. It is a far better strategy to throwing stories out via email to any reporter and praying they get selected. Quality over quantity will always win out.
A Little Bit About My Blog:
I write about a vast array of topics related to marketing, public relations, business development and business management. Sometimes the topic is very focused and my blog addresses very specific challenges with specific answers. While other times my blogs take a wider view of a topic or theory and are intended to make the reader think on a macro-level as opposed to providing specific answers. It’s like the proverb says: “Feed a fish to a hungry person you’ve fed them for a day. Teach them to fish you feed them for life.” The goal is not to give you the answers but to help you solve the challenges of your business through critical thinking. Either way, I hope my blogs elicit a reaction, good or bad. If good, we can compare notes and share stories of success. If bad, we can have a good old fashion debate. May the best debater win.