When you've put a lot of
time and effort into pitching reporters, it can be frustrating - or
even discouraging - when your story is turned down. Here are five
simple tips for securing media coverage.
1. Target the appropriate media contacts.
Take the time to plan ahead and research the reporters and
editors you should be pitching to. It's called homework and yes,
it's important in the PR industry. Read the reporters and editors'
most recent news stories and learn whether or not they're the right
contact for your story.
Each reporter and editor has a personal style and preference, so
keep that in mind when deciding whom to pitch. If you're pitching
an environmental editor and your story is more appropriate for the
technology section of a newspaper, then you can say "bye-bye" to
earning a placement.
Putting time and effort into doing your homework may mean that
you're not able to reach as many media contacts, but remember:
Quality over quantity is essential when it comes to landing
placements. It will pay off!
2. Create customized and genuine pitches.
Reporters have jobs to do and deadlines to meet. Don't waste
their time by pitching generalized templates. Make sure you
communicate to the reporter why your story fits his/her specific
coverage and writing style. Personalize each and every pitch so
you're addressing what each media contact is most interested
And don't forget, media is no different than the rest of us.
They love compliments on their work; after all, who doesn't? If
you've read a particular interesting or compelling story by a
reporter, make sure to mention that when pitching to him/her. By
doing so, you're letting the reporter know that: a) you actually
read their work, b) you understand their style and therefore know
what to pitch, and c) you are a fan and believer of their work.
Creating customized pitches means that you'll be promoting
two-way communication with reporters - not using a one-way pitch
that a reporter will delete from his/her inbox.
3. Pitch in a short and concise manner.
Reporting is one of the busiest professions. Respect that
notion, along with the fact that reporters generally write in a
brief, factual manner - and don't send lengthy, wordy pitches
filled with jargon. Better yet, if you have facts on hand that
support your story, make sure to use them in your pitch.
On that same note of brevity, don't bog down your email pitches
with attachments, even if those attachments contain relevant
information. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches a day and they
don't need their inboxes clogged. Instead, ask the media contact if
he/she would like additional information sent in the form of an
attachment or use a link with information instead. Trust me; your
media contacts will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
4. Take the time to develop relationships with the media
Don't make the mistake of only contacting reporters and editors
when you need them. With social media, it's now easier than ever to
directly access the media using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. By building
relationships with media contacts ahead of time, they're more
likely to listen when you pitch.
"Friend" and "follow" three reporters to start off and see what
it's like. Reporters are working under a lot of pressure and great
time constraints so if you can offer a hand, friendly yet useful
conversation, or better yet - a great story - you'll develop a
relationship in no time.
5. Ensure your pitch is newsworthy.
In today's cutthroat world, it's essential that your pitch is
newsworthy for placement. The last thing you want a reporter to
think when they read your pitch is, "So what?"
Here are some elements of newsworthiness to use as guidance:
- Timeliness - Make sure your story covers a new or current
- Significance - The more people affected by your story's topic,
the better chances it will earn placement.
- Proximity - Ensure your story is relevant not only to the
geographical region of where you are pitching, but also the
cultural undertones of the region.
- Prominence - Famous people get more attention because they're
famous. Plain and simple.
- Uniqueness - Is your product the only one on the market that
can do something in particular? If so, you have a better chance of
- Human interest - Stories that appeal to emotion tend to earn
more placements. Readers like a story that pulls at their heart
After earning a media placement, it is important to follow up
with the media contacts and thank them for their time. Remember,
this is not a "one-and-done" industry. Media relations is an
Melia Swift, Account Supervisor at Solomon McCown &