7 tips for pitching your story

Earning media coverage means covering all your bases in terms of timing, knowing the audience and saying what you need to say in just the right way.

When your organization gets positive media coverage, it gets a bump in employee morale, often in sales, and in recognition that can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Earning that coverage can be tricky, though, if you don’t follow a few basic rules.

Here are seven things to consider when trying to earn media coverage for your organization or client.

1. Know the team.

We have staffers who love music and sports. At a drop of a pin, they can tell me more than I’d ever want to know about the players on a team or members of a band – their likes, dislikes, details about their family, and more. You should know the media that covers a client business with the same passion. Follow them on Twitter, dissect their articles and digest their columns religiously. Only then can you understand what they think is a good story and how to catch their attention with your idea.

2. Help them help you.

If a reporter reaches out to you with a question, answer it. And if you can’t, find someone else who can. By helping them the first time, you build a rapport that can go toward a trusted relationship.

3. Time it right.

Insert yourself or your client when it makes sense. For example, is there a jobs report due out Friday? Ask the local radio, TV or beat reporter who covers the economy if they’d like a perspective from your client who happens to be in the staffing industry. Additionally, call or email when reporters want to hear from you. In many cases, they are entirely up front about it, and will tell you when a good time to pitch them is. As a rule, it’s bad form to reach out toward the end of the day when most daily media are under deadline.

4. Don’t waste their time.

If you send pitches out en masse—say, 50 people get the same idea—you are going to fail. Instead, only pitch reporters who will care about your story. Back to point No. 1, if you know them and what they like to cover, you’ll know if your idea makes sense to them before you blast away haphazardly.

RELATED: Learn how companies like NASCAR drive engagement with content marketing at Ragan’s Content Summit.

5. Get to the point.

Have a story idea? Don’t preface it. Just share it. These folks are busy and don’t want to get to paragraph five to learn what you are thinking. Like a good news story, a good pitch should use an inverted pyramid format. Get to the point and reporters will respect your effort, even if they don’t bite. I’ve found pitches that get results are one or two paragraphs: just enough to capture attention.

6. Tell them why they should care.

If you don’t relate your idea back to a media outlet’s readers, viewers or listeners, you are less likely to succeed. Think through your angle carefully, considering why a reporter’s readers would be interested. Local media are typically very in tune with what their readers want. Give them a local or tangible hook that ties back to their audience and you’ll up your chance of success.

7. Persist, but don’t badger.

Some members of the media will respond to your pitch quickly with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Unfortunately, most do not. Rather than giving up, consider following up in a week or so, depending on the urgency of the issue or topic, to see if they received the idea and may be interested. So many times, a reporter will say: “Yeah, I remember seeing that. Send it again and I’ll let you know.” Don’t badger them, but politely email them again and see how it goes. If you get no response, move on to another possible outlet or circle back at a later time. You never know what issue a reporter or editor has on his or her plate, so don’t take the rejection personally.

What else could help a person successfully earn coverage for a good story idea?

A version of this post originally appeared on the blog of Pivot Communicatons, the company Patrick Hyde co-founded.

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