The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Media: Part 1

This is part one of a two-part series on pitching stories to the media. Part two will explore some of our most challenging pitches and highest-achieving hits. 

Working with the media doesn’t have to been intimidating, as long as you do a little preparation and planning. Here are some tips on how to earn positive results and build good-working relationships with journalists:

Do your research. The worst thing you can do is pitch a reporter who covers a completely different beat. Nine times out of ten you won’t get a response. If you don’t take the time to find out what is important to them, why should they take the time to write a story about your client? Read their past articles and find out what their interests are before you make contact.

Make it relevant. Your pitch is not about you or your product, it’s about why it’s important to the reader. Know your audience and identify why the reader would have any interest in what you’re pitching. Offer a supporting quote from the person you want to be sourced and be a resource to the reporter for background information, trends/statistics or any additional materials (such as photos or graphics). Your job is to make their job easy.

Persist, but don’t annoy. It’s okay to follow up if you don’t hear back after initial contact. Reporters working for large publications are inundated with pitches all day long. Instead of resending your original email, try responding with a recent article related to your pitch, or provide new information that was not included in your initial outreach.

Deliver. If you do secure interest, make sure you respond in a timely matter with follow up questions: “What is your deadline? Who do you need to speak to? And what angle are you taking with your story?” This will help you determine the best person for that reporter to speak with and set a timeframe of when you need to schedule the interview.

Follow up. After the interview, always follow up. Ask if they have additional questions or need clarification and supporting materials. Remember it is not customary for a reporter to let you edit or see their story, nor do they have to. You certainly have the right to ask, but do not expect to be granted that opportunity. Finally, make sure the reporter knows that you can be a resource for future articles.

Maintain the connection. Now that you’ve established a relationship with a reporter, don’t let it die. Follow the reporter on social media and keep tabs on what they are writing from time to time. Don’t forget that not all emails to a reporter have to be a pitch. Sending a quick note to tell them “Great job on your last story” and “I thought you’d be interested in XXX” speaks volumes.

Check back in the coming weeks for part two of this blog series.

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