Before reaching out to the media to discuss a potential story, there are several key steps that will make your pitch truly effective.
1. Really Do Your Homework
Once you have decided on a target publication, it is important to conduct detailed background research. Beyond reading the publication and researching if your topic has been covered, it is important to dissect the publication critically, noting different sections, columns, types of coverage (Is it news of the day? A feature story?) as well as the angle of the stories in each (Should it have an opinion? Or inform?).
Although this may seem time consuming at first, conducting background research will greatly increase the quality of your pitches, which will increase the likelihood that they will be of interest to the publication. And when you send a well thought out pitch to a journalist, they will be more likely to look for your pitch in the future. Additionally, doing your homework helps demonstrate the value you can bring to the publication.
2. Learn Individual Beats
While at first glance it may seem as though journalist’s within a publication have the same area of interest, for example science, there can be key nuances between coverage. Some may focus on the business side of science while others focus on scientific research. Getting your story to the right journalist will increase the likelihood it will be of interest and is a more effective use of your time and the journalist’s time.
3. Think Like a Journalist
Once you have broken down the publication and understand more about the format and who is writing certain stories, it is time to begin to think like a journalist, if you haven’t already. Think about your pitch in terms of a story. Are there trends in the space around which the company can provide insight? Does the company have a novel way to solve a problem in the space? It is important to remember the readership of the publication as well. Would this trend be of interest to the readers? If not, could you tweak the story to make it more of interest to this audience?
Taking this next step and thinking about what the readership would like to hear about from your company makes life much easier for the journalist. Instead of having to work to fit an interesting company into their coverage, sending a prepared story, complete with relevant sources, is much more beneficial.
While these strategies take more time and effort, implementing these tips should both improve the effectiveness of your pitches as well as your relationship with the journalist.