Generating interest from the media to cover your news can be a multi-step challenge. Not only do you need to discover and package a captivating story, but you also need to draft the perfect pitch to capture the attention of the media. Even then, as seasoned PR pros, we know there’s another crucial step in the pitch process.
Identifying the ideal reporter is an important step in the pitch process, and one that should not be saved for last. Rather, it should inform the other two steps in the process.
“Make sure every pitch you send to a reporter fits that reporter’s subject matter, outlet and preferences, so you can continue to have a mutually beneficial working relationship.”
Every reporter has a different set of interests and every outlet has a different style, and we should tailor our pitches to fit both the reporter and outlet. Before blasting off emails to reporters, be sure to follow these steps to help make sure your pitch sticks:
- Know the outlet. Explore the different sections and topics the outlet covers. Look into whether the outlet produces additional content like newsletters or special editions. Being knowledgeable about the outlet itself will help determine the most appropriate contact to pitch so your pitch can take shape into a full story.
- Read previous content. Once you’ve got an idea of whom you plan to pinpoint, become familiar with their work. What have they covered recently? Does your pitch add anything to what they have already covered? If it relates to their recent coverage, your pitch could be right up their alley.
- Check social media. In addition to the content reporters publish through their respective outlets, understanding what they post on their public social media, like Twitter, can provide valuable insight. Some reporters use social media to scope out leads and share what they are interested in but may not be writing about. Their social media also may provide their preferences for pitches. Depending on the reporter, they even may prefer to be contacted via social media direct messages rather than email and may indicate this in their social media bios.
- Respect pet peeves. If you find out how a journalist prefers to be contacted, respect it. Just as you have preferences on how you’d like to communicate, honor the preferences of reporters with whom you wish to work. If you pitch your story in a friendly, respectful manner, members of the media may be more receptive toward hearing what you have to offer.
- Cultivate long-term relationships. You could consider relationship building as part of the pitch process. Like any relationship, you should be aware of the various likes, dislikes and external factors that could affect how your message will be received. And like any relationship, the history you create can influence future interactions. If you send irrelevant pitches to a reporter, they may come to associate you with just that. Make sure every pitch you send to a reporter fits that reporter’s subject matter, outlet and preferences, so you can continue to have a mutually beneficial working relationship.
With all the resources and internet sleuthing available, there’s no excuse for being ill-informed when identifying appropriate media contacts to pitch. Be sure to spend time researching the outlets and reporters you’d like to work with before sending them a pitch for something you hope sparks their interest.