How Are YOU Pitching to Editors and Reporters?

27 03 2010

For corporate communicators, it’s often hard to find the right way to pitch a story.  Journalists get overloaded with pitches and often times they will go unnoticed.  It’s important to make your pitch stand out.  ‘How do you do this?’ you’re probably asking.  There are many different opinions on what works but for the most part, professionals agree on what actually works.  I have compiled a list of six ways to make your pitch more successful:

1. Do research – Doing professional research on the journalist and their publication works wonders.  By reading articles of theirs, you are able to better understand what they look for in prospective topics, making your pitch stand out more in the flood of pitches they get everyday.  Also, research how the journalist likes to receive pitches – is it email? phone? or in hand?  For example, you wouldn’t pitch an upcoming book release to a reviewer of music.  Just like you wouldn’t pitch a brand new hunting tool to Cosmopolitan magazine.

2. Make your headline catchy – Simplify your headline to say what your announcement is and make it catchy.  Headlines that are forward and interesting give journalists and incentive to at least skim the pitch.

3. Keep pitches straightforward and simplified – Journalists often don’t have time to read a detailed pitch, so provide the facts, any links that are helpful, and contact information.  If they are interested, they will contact you.

4. Keep pitches conversational – Much like traditional, face-to-face media relations, being friendly and approachable helps in conversational tone, during a not-so-personal media relations age, and leaves a sense of relationship building.  When addressing them, use their name.  They don’t want to be just another journalist in a database of names.

5. Build and maintain relationships – corporate communicators and PR professionals work very closely with journalists so it is important to build a two-way relationship.  If you help journalists during a time of need, they will most likely help you by giving you the publicity needed.  It’s a two-way street and you can’t expect to get anything if nothing is given.

6. Be accurate and timely – Provide the correct information in a professional manner, otherwise you and your company’s reputation are at risk.  Also, respond ASAP.  Often times, if a journalist is interested, they will respond immediately with questions.  This is because they expect a fast response.  Remember they are on deadline and will move on if they don’t hear from you.

Many corporate communicators and PR professionals don’t take these into account and in turn, end up doing at least one thing on the list of what not to do.  By following these suggestions, your story pitch may end up as the next big headline.  Do you have any pitching suggestions?  Any ways you pitch that have shown to be successful?

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3 responses

27 03 2010
Mary-Kate Wilson

If I had a penny for every time I heard “make strong relationships” I would be a millionaire! I definitely think this is the most important aspect when pitching a story to editors. But having a good relationship needs to start somewhere.
I think the best way to form any relationship is to research the company, like you said. Showing the editor that you know what the company stands for and what they are about will showcase your interest and you will come off as a good potential representative or liaison for said company.
I know this is slightly unrelated, but the reason Taylor Swift doesn’t have any enemies in the music business is because she built strong friendly relationships with business people and maintains her good nature. As you can see, this has been hugely successful for Taylor to do.

27 03 2010
Taylor Scott

Haha, I agree with Mary Kate 100%. I feel like “building relationships” is the number one piece of advice from everyone that is involved in this industry, and I think they’re absolutely right. As we talked about in class, if you have poor relationships with media outlets, not only are your stories not going to get out, but you run the risk of having them give your company a bad name.

18 04 2010
Aaren Cecere

You defintely need to show that you are interested in what the person you are pitching to is doing but you also need to show what’s in it for them. You need to make sure before you pitch your story that it will reach the audience you need it to, but also that the people sharing your story will benefit because their audience will be interested as well. After all, the media is your primary audience as a corporate communicator and with any audience you need to make sure it’s tailored to them.

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