Get your story to the right person at the right time
Successfully pitching the media is one of the most important tasks a PR company can perform for its clients. Through a pitch, a PR firm can ensure that the media publishes a client’s story and that many people read it.
Despite the importance of the practice, the companies that hire PR firms to pitch often know very little about the process itself. It is important for client companies to also understand the process so that they can help fine-tune the PR firm’s pitches in order to get better results.
Here are four things media outlets wish the companies that send them pitches knew ahead of time:
- Think about the types of stories an outlet runs.
Do some research on the outlets you want to pitch – mainly, the types of stories they run. Some outlets focus on hard news like crime and politics, while others are more focused on soft news like community events and feel-good stories.
Before you write out your pitch, think about what type of news it is. Is it soft or hard? Once you’ve determined that, select the outlet you will pitch based on the type of news it runs.
- Pitch the appropriate reporter.
It is important that you do not mass-pitch members of the media. Each reporter has her own specialty or specific beat she covers. For example, one may focus on medical and banking while another covers crime and non-profit. In order to ensure a successful pitch, you need to pitch the story to the right person. If you want a pitch a story about how a new technology is helping your business grow, pitch it to the reporter whose beat is business or technology. Sending the story to the person who covers law news will result in her blowing off the email or call because it’s not in her purview. Ignoring this bit of etiquette can also put you and your company on the reporter’s bad side, which means you may never get a story from her.
- Send your pitches shortly before staff meetings.
Most news outlets have at least one meeting per day – often more – to determine what stories they should publish. If you submit your pitch an hour or less before the meeting, it’ll be fresh in the reporter’s mind when he considers pitches he’d like to submit as stories to his editors or news directors. This way, there’s a higher chance the reporter will share your pitch with his editor, which makes it a potential candidate for a full news story.
- Build a personal relationship with the reporter.
Another key to creating successful pitches is to build personal relationships with a few reporters so that they are already familiar with you when you pitch them.
This may all sound a bit difficult and involved, but it’s actually not so outlandish. First, go to events that journalists would likely visit, such as media meet-and-greets or journalism meetings. Find a journalist and strike up a conversation with him. Talk to him for a bit, see how he is and begin forming a professional relationship with him so that he’ll remember you when the time comes for you to pitch a story.
Another option is to simply drop into a reporter’s office and say hi; even saying hello and having a brief chat will help her remember you, which is the seed for a personal relationship between you and a reporter.
By understanding key parts of the pitching process from the media’s point of view, companies can craft better pitches with the help of their PR firms and understand more of the decisions the PR firm makes when it creates a pitch for the company. This not only improves the pitch and increases the odds a reporter will accept it, but it also makes the relationship between company and PR firm stronger, facilitating better cooperation and trust between them.
If you would like to learn more about effectively reaching out to journalists, download our media relations e-book, Learn Media Relations from the Media.
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