Pitching & Media Relations 101

By Kristina Negas, Account Executive

As a former reporter, I’ve been on both sides of the news spectrum. Now in the PR world, I have made it a habit to look at my clients’ news from a journalist’s perspective prior to pitching. Sure, a new product announcement, for example, may seem like exciting, earth-shattering news in the client’s eyes, but to many reporters, it may simply be the latest addition to their Outlook recycle bin.

Whether you are sending a press release to a local newspaper, or proposing an idea for a thought leadership piece to a trade magazine, here are a few tips to boost your appeal to the media and land your next big placement:

Look at the Big Picture: Tie your pitch in with a current event, a telling statistic or growing industry trend. Indicate how your client’s news relates to a hot-button issue or how it will affect readers. Point the reporter to the underlying story at hand, rather than saying, “Here’s my company’s news, now write about it.” This tactic will also prevent your pitch from coming across as overly self-promotional and advertorial – a major turn off!

Keep it Simple: Reporters are extremely busy and are constantly under pressure to meet deadlines. Therefore, it’s important to keep your pitch simple and make sure it is straightforward and to the point. There is no time in the newsroom for reading paragraphs upon paragraphs about the latest upgrades to your client’s current software application. Also, your pitch should have a strong lead and enticing subject line—you want to grab the reporter’s attention right off the bat.

Be Considerate: Again, reporters are busy. It’s OK to follow up with them a couple times to gauge their interest in your story (there’s always the possibility that your pitch landed in their spam folder), but be careful not to become a pest. When corresponding with reporters, always be courteous, even if you get a snippy response. And, “no” really does mean “no” – if the reporter is obviously not interested, move on and pitch your story elsewhere before it becomes old news.

Do Your Research: Before pitching, research your targeted media outlet and identify the reporter or editor who covers the appropriate beat. Once you pinpoint your target, look back at previously written articles to ensure your topic is relevant, and get a feel for the types of articles the reporter writes. By taking the time to do a little digging, you can better customize your pitches and avoid the dreaded mass email blasts.

By following these guidelines to pitch insightful, newsworthy stories, you’ll be well on your way to achieving high-quality media coverage. And, as a bonus, these guidelines can help you establish lasting relationships with editors and reporters – they will learn to rely on you as a credible source of information, and keep coming back for more.