How to Pitch the Press in 2016
February 2, 2016
There are many questions you should ask yourself before you pitch the press. Is there a story? Is it newsworthy? Will the target audience care? Are you providing value? If, and only if, the answer to these questions is yes, you’re ready to pitch the press. Put on your creative cap, but before you get on the mound to throw the ball, remember that we’re now in the digital age of social media. Pitching practices have evolved.
Don’t blanket pitch.
You need to do your homework. Research goes a long way. Target appropriate publications and appropriate reporters. Don’t send your pitch about an AIDS fundraiser to someone who only writes about technology or cars. We’re talking about strategic media relations not blanket e-mail blasts to everyone on your media contact list. Tailor your pitch.
Use social media strategically.
If you’re targeting individual reporters and bloggers, make yourself familiar with their content. Read their articles. Follow their tweets. Share. Engage. You want to get on their radar. Make yourself a useful resource, a go-to source of information.
The vehicle of choice.
While many journalists and bloggers don’t mind pitches on Twitter, recent surveys show that most… almost 90 per cent…still prefer to receive e-mails. So make sure you have a good subject line. It’s too easy to hit delete. Make your subject line snappy, but keep it relevant. And, think links not attachments.
Pitch once. Follow-up once.
Honour the journalist’s time. Prepare properly and then pitch once. Don’t call to ask if they’ve received your email. If they’re interested, they’ll let you know. As for follow-ups, again, one reminder is enough. If you prefer to talk to someone, it’s okay to call and refer to the material you’ve already sent. Just remember this…the more you call, the less interested they’ll likely become. If there’s no pickup, let it go. Trying to pitch the same story repeatedly is just annoying.
Don’t overdo it.
Don’t be phoney or too sugary sweet. “I just absolutely loved that brilliant piece you wrote about…” A good pitch doesn’t require false flattery. Don’t be too pushy. “But, but, but… this is such a great story for you…” Don’t try too hard to convince. These tactics don’t work so save yourself the embarrassment.
Stand out from the crowd.
Busy reporters can often get hundreds of emails a day so you might want to consider how your pitch could stand out. There’s something to be said for the element of surprise. If it’s appropriate, perhaps try a courier package. Give them something to open…maybe some sort of novelty. The point is to get noticed.
News releases are not dead.
If a news release is part of your pitch, think like a journalist and craft it carefully. Start with a catchy headline that will make them want to read more. Keep it short and simple. Watch your grammar and spelling. Be accurate and avoid jargon and acronyms. Only use quotes if they’re interesting and add value. Include multi-media for spice. And, use key words in your headline and the body of your news release to help with SEO.
The key is to build relationships.
Success in media relations requires certain strategies and skills. But, relationships are the key. It takes time to build good relationships so have patience and use social strategically. It’s worth the effort because your relationships will make it likelier that your pitch will result in a home run.
Be prepared for a yes.
Be ready to follow through. Be available and make sure your spokespeople are available. Respect the reporter’s deadline. Give them what they need and make it easy for them. Remember, this is what you wanted.