Confessions from a daily newspaper editor
Pitching major news outlets requires skill and finesse. A poorly constructed pitch can really harm your company’s reputation. To effectively pitch a major media outlet, it’s important to put yourself in the journalist’s shoes. Here are 10 tips from the newsroom for getting noticed and earning that coveted major media outlet coverage for your company.
- Determine which journalist will cover your story.
Contact that specific journalist instead of going through the admin staff or, even worse, calling someone who has nothing to do with the beat you’re pitching.
- Before you pitch an idea, check the outlet’s archives to make sure someone hasn’t already written on the topic.
If they have, find a new angle.
- Do a little investigating to learn which method is best for pitching the journalist.
As an editor, I preferred to receive an email as the first communication for a story pitch, with a commitment for a follow-up call – unless it was a true deadline story.
- Make the email interesting and brief.
That way, I’ll look forward to your follow-up call – or I may even call you myself. The email also gives the journalist a chance to respond if he or she isn’t interested.
- Send your pitch early in the day.
If you send an email late in the afternoon, there’s a good chance the journalist won’t see it until the next morning when the new day’s communications may bury it.
- If you say you’re going to call, make sure you do.
You’re building relationships, and the foundation of a strong relationship is trust and the expectation that you’ll do what you say you’ll do – the sign of a true professional.
- Be aware of a newsroom’s busy times when you contact them.
Too often people call to pitch at the worst time.
- For a daily morning newspaper, journalists typically file in late afternoon/early evening.
- TV news stations are swamped one to three hours before their live broadcasts.
- The deadline day for local business journals that publish on Fridays is generally Tuesday or Wednesday morning, however, you should always confirm such.
- Don’t overlook the smaller community papers.
Their readership is typically very loyal. They’re often looking for good story ideas. Many of them take submitted photos and articles as long as they don’t read purely promotional.
- Consider being a guest columnist as an expert on a topic.
Just be sure not to write as a promotion for your company. Your article should explain and educate readers on an issue or trend. For example, daily newspapers use other viewpoints in their editorial pages, especially on Sundays.
- Some newspapers also have specialty publications, such as for real estate and automobiles.
They accept story ideas and often submissions too. Look for outlets that focus on your industry.
Axia Public Relations specializes in media relations to generate earned media coverage. Our experts will craft your pitches to engage media and increase your positive news coverage, while staying true to your brand. We pitch daily and are constantly working to build relationships with journalists and position our clients for maximum media coverage. To learn more about how to earn media coverage from the biggest outlets for your company, download Axia’s complimentary e-book “Learn Media Relations from the Media” today.
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