Gaining quality media coverage holds great marketing power for any organization. But capturing the attention of a journalist and then successfully placing a feature or news story can be challenging to say the least.
Given the degree of difficulty, here are some key steps that you can take to help make your next a pitch a successful one:
- Determine the news angle of your pitch. What makes it truly unique and newsworthy? Veiled attempts at simply gaining publicity for the organization almost always fail.
- Research the journalist and his or her media outlet. Is your news what the journalist typically likes to cover? Make sure the news would interest the audience that the journalist serves as well.
- Pitch one journalist at a time. Mass emails are impersonal and turn journalists off. The news should be offered as a “scoop” to the journalist to either accept or reject. If the pitch is rejected, only then move to your next option.
- Keep email pitches short and to the point. No more than 250 words should suffice. The focus should be on the legitimacy of the news, not excessive facts about the organization.
- Don’t forget the basics, make sure to spell the journalist’s name correctly and don’t be too informal, unless you have a closer relationship with the person.
- If you have ideas for photographs, video, data and other supporting materials that can be used to develop the final story make sure to mention this in the pitch. This makes the journalist’s job that much easier.
- Close the pitch with a request that the journalist contact you with his or her decision or any questions. Include a time frame when you will follow up if you haven’t heard back.
When pitching by phone
- Don’t forget the steps above.
- Always attempt to speak with the journalist rather than leaving a voice mail message. Only after several attempts should you leave a message.
- When you reach journalists, always check to make sure they have an opportunity to talk. They may be on deadline, in which case they could become annoyed or won’t give their fullest attention.
- Keep the pitch brief. Think in terms of 15 second pieces of information. If you finish one piece and they’re interested, go on to the next and so forth.
- Be ready to give the journalist an opportunity to consider your pitch. Offer to follow up in a few days if extra time is needed.
Media placements offer a third-party stamp of endorsement that most other marketing tactics can’t provide. Landing a news or feature story is well worth the time and effort that goes into it. Wishing you all the best with your next pitch…
What do you think? Has using these steps been helpful to you? What would you add?
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.