There’s a definite art to pitching a story to journalists, but it’s not as complex as you might think. However, you do only get one shot to get your story across the line so you need to make it count.
The reality is journalists are incredibly time poor, up against numerous deadlines and have endless stories pitched to them on a daily basis.
To ensure you get it right and get that much needed positive coverage for your organisation, here are a few tips:
Get it together
Playing the cryptic card by teasing a story and talent playing hard to get are sure-fire ways to send your email straight to a journalist’s deleted folder and potentially damage any future opportunities.
Make it hard for the journalist to say ‘no’ by giving the journalist everything first, and by that we mean the detail, case studies and talent to interview. Media loves visuals, so have photos, imagery, videos, fly throughs or animations ready to go.
It’s important to know who the decision-makers are in news rooms. While it’s incredibly valuable to build relationships with journalists, you are adding another job to their list expecting them to pitch your story to their Chief of Staff. Pitch straight to the decision maker – you’ll know fairly quickly whether your story has legs.
Exude confidence, without sounding like a used car salesperson. When contacting journalists, know what you are talking about to really sell your pitch. By presenting an original idea, this will immediately set you pitch apart from the 101 other pitches journalists receive on a daily basis. And remember, a journalist doesn’t owe you or your client a story – that’s not how this business works.
Know the audience
Between TV, radio and print media, they all have different wants and needs that will give a story legs. Look at the type and style of story the outlets run to ensure you’re hitting their audience and then ask yourself, is your pitch something their audience will care about? Will it educate, evoke emotion or help their audience evolve in some way? If not, look at different angles that will achieve your goal and give it that original angle.
Nothing is guaranteed in media so set client expectations early on. If talent is unavailable or there’s no imagery to send with the pitch, you’ve limited your success before you’ve begun – be upfront about how this may inhibit your chances. Expectation setting also applies to journalists – don’t say you can send an image or provide talent to interview if you can’t, and let them know if they are the first and only media you have contacted, or if it has gone out to an entire contact list.