It’s the age old challenge for start-ups, PR execs and marketers. Is there really a hard and fast way to pitch to a journalist successfully?
This is a great question, and one that comes up more and more in our workplace, at social events and at our presentations. And it’s no surprise! According to MuckRack a massive 61% of PRs state that connecting with journalists in a meaningful way is their biggest challenge.
We recently discussed how to pitch to journalists during the pandemic – which has been a whole new challenge within itself! With that in mind, here’s our go to guide to help up your media relations game and pitch to journalists successfully.
How should I be pitching to journalists?
The problem is, there isn’t a one size fits all rule when it comes to effective media pitching. What works for one journalist, may irritate another. What makes a great news story for one publication, is completely irrelevant to the next. The first and most important lesson of quality journalist relations, is to ensure that you are personalising your pitching. Let’s face it, journalists are busy. So, you need to convince them that your story is a keeper. Sending out a generic mailer and hoping for the best simply isn’t going to cut it.
Pitching to journalists can be tricky to get right – one thing to remember is to be personal and put thought into your pitch
What does successful media pitching look like?
There are some key facts that can help you to inform your approach and ensure that you are selling in your news story at the right time and in the right way. We already know that being personal is key. But hey – so is your timing. If you overload a journo with news over the weekend, last thing on a Friday, or first thing on a Monday – chances are your story will get lost. Of course, you also need to be mindful of other news. If there’s a major breaking news story, now’s maybe not the best time to start selling in a story about a fantastic new product your launching. It’s always important to be aware and sensitive to the current news agenda. That said, there are times when news is slow, so take advantage and make sure your story is front of the pile.
How can I optimise my media relations activity?
Another big mistake many people make is looking inwardly when trying to convince a journalist that their story is newsworthy. Yes, you may think it’s important that your new service features all the bells and whistles, but does the journalist, and even more importantly, does their reader? Try to think outside of the box a little when positioning your pitch for journalists. What’s going to grab their attention when your release lands in their inbox? Instead of saying, ‘Hey, I have this great new product that I want to talk to you about’, go with ‘Hi, I’ve being researching your readers, and I know that they are really passionate about x, so I thought they might be interested in y.’
What are the key things to consider when pitching a news story?
We’ve covered a lot already, but when it comes to it, there are loads of facts and considerations to account for when positioning your story, deciding when to pitch, choosing a format and channel to reach out with, and how to guarantee coverage.
To help you pitch to journalists more successfully, we’ve compiled this handy 8 step guide to help you maximise your media relations:
1) Trial and error – Like anything, evaluation of results is key! Whenever you receive a response from a journalist, make note of the time. See if there is a pattern to their communication.
2) Be in the know – Make use of EdCals and forward features. Many publications publish editorial calendars online as part of their media packs – this provides you with the heads up on what topics they’re covering and when.
3) Avoid Mondays, Fridays and weekends – Don’t let your PR news go to waste by pitching at a bad time, consider what’s going on in your journalist’s world and pitch accordingly. And yes, that includes holidays too!
4) Build relationships – be reliable, offer quality news stories, stick to deadlines, respect exclusivity deals and add value when speaking to journalists.
5) Keep it short and sweet – waffling on for hours will just turn journalists off, keep the key info clear and concise initially then expand later if needs be.
6) Mornings are magic – if you’re going to pick up the phone, make it in the morning, MuckRack data shows 65% of journalists would rather receive pitches in the morning compared to an afternoon.
7) Follow up – journalists are busy, so be sure to follow up if you don’t get a response to your initial pitch. But also, be mindful not to nag – give them time to get back to you and send a polite email if you don’t hear anything.
8) Offer an exclusive (only if it’s genuine) – Fact, journalists are more likely to cover your story if you make it exclusive to them. So if you have a big hitter you need to reach, offer an exclusive before selling in elsewhere. Don’t promise an exclusive if it isn’t an exclusive though, this will only back fire.
Pitching to journalists is one of the trickiest parts of media relations, but once you get it right and become consistent with your approach you’ll find you have much more success and achieve really positive results. At Prohibition, we work with a range of brands in B2B and B2C sectors to deliver strategic, considered and creative media relations campaigns that deliver real ROI. Get in touch with us today to find out how we could help you. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a bell on: 0113 430 4160.