As publicists, we are always trying to work within the framework of the outlet and pitching angle we are given. We will do whatever it takes to create a strategy to get in front of the reporter with our client, so we craft a solid media pitch. A media pitch is a type of email that journalists, editors, and communication officers receive from organizations, companies, or individuals every day. The pitch contains information about the sender's new product or service, an invitation to an event, the announcement of a breakthrough, and so on. It is usually sent to a journalist or an editor at a newspaper, magazine, blog over email.
Media pitches are a very important marketing tool because journalists can help you place your business, product, or service in front of an audience, which then, ideally leads to increased brand awareness and if done right creates an emotional connection with potential customers. There are a variety of ways to go about pitching a media story. Each method can often be used in combination with others depending on the nature of the story and the type of publication. But often you can find that you are never quite sure what to do next if the post doesn’t get published or there’s no response to your email pitch.
Let’s face it. Pitching a story to a media outlet is hard work. Even if you do have the best story on the block, if it is not pitched in the right way, it has a slim chance of making a splash. So, what do you do when your pitches are not being picked up? How do you figure out why your pitch isn’t working? Here are three things you should consider before your next pitch.
News people care about stories other people care about.
If you had a fundraising event for animal shelters, what would make your story on the local news, if it were balanced with so many others like it? You might believe it is your good cause, but it doesn’t always mean that you will get the coverage you want, unless of course, you can find a way to have a captivating opening. You need to find the best angle in order to drum up interest in what you have to say. Think about how to make the story more interesting so that the broadcasters will add you to their show. Whether it’s social media or traditional media, it’s about the most interesting story of the day. People want to hear about a point of view that is fresh, unique, or just plain funny. People want to share content that will get the most response out of their friends and followers.
Sometimes the news contact does not choose what gets published.
This may sound a little discouraging at first, but it is true. If you want to see something actually appear on television or in the magazine, you should probably start with an assignment editor or producer. Try to contact as many people as you can through snail mail, email, or phone call. Many of these people are overworked and have very little time to take a look at what you have sent them. That is why it is important that you contact as many of them as possible. This is a lot of work, but it is what almost all writers do when they want to see their work on television or in a magazine. And don’t worry! This can help you gain a few contacts in public relations departments or news desks—people who build great media relationships for future stories that you may want to be published or broadcast. It is as simple as it sounds and seems like it would be the best way to start out.
Reporters are people too.
When you are pitching stories to reporters it is always best to connect with them on a personal level. You need to show them that you understand what they do, how they work, and what is important to them. It almost goes without saying that the easier you can make their lives, and that includes meeting their deadlines, the more likely it is you will get published. You have probably heard this a million times from your press release writing clients and other public relations professionals, but you must remember now that you are pitching the stories to reporters—they are real people. This means to see them as human beings first and the shining example of hard-hitting journalism second. The more relatable you are, the better chance you have to get your story covered!
You have to accept that reporters will rarely respond the way you expect them to. It’s easy to get caught up in this mindset of “If I send an email, they should at least reply and acknowledge it.” If they do, then great! However, if you expect a response for every lead you give them, be prepared to be disappointed. Your expectations of their behavior are probably too high. You can’t blame them because there is no standard expectation for how a reporter should treat unsolicited pitches. It’s like building relationships — not everyone will respond the way you expect them to, but it doesn’t mean they don't value your relationship.