What the Media Wants You to Know Before You Pitch Them

What is the best way to pitch the media? Muck Rack surveyed its journalist community for its pitching preferences Image_Rules-Key-e1419114396960(and I don’t mean baseball) and here’s what they found:

  • Less than 2% of journalists prefer to receive pitches on the phone, 92% prefer email.
  • Lack of personalization is the most likely reason a journalist would immediately reject a pitch
  • Nearly 80% of journalists find Twitter to be the most valuable social network

Here are three things your PR outreach should always do:  

  • Build relationships
  • Establish you as a thought leader in your field
  • Be R.E.A.LTM (realistic, engaging, authentic, and designed for longlasting results)

Here’s how to make those happen:

  • Be personal – Before you start interacting with the media, find out more about them. “To Whom it May Concern” is NOT the way to build a relationship. All the TV stations have assignment desks. Call the assignment editor at each and ask who the best person to send a press release to is. If it’s a general release, it can most likely go to the assignment editor; but if the story is in relation to one that a reporter has already been working on, you may want to send it directly to them. NOTE: Some media outlets request that story ideas be sent to a specific email regardless of the topic. (e.g. storyideas@mediaxyz.com)
  • Most major newspapers have (several) editors for each section, so if it’s a business story, you can call the business editor and ask who you should send it to; a feature story would go through the features editor.
  • Go on the media websites and look for the staff bios. Most will tell you what areas/beats they cover and give you direct contact info.
  • If you send a story idea to a particular reporter, make sure it’s their area of expertise. For example, sending a feature story to the reporter that only covers hard news is wasting your time and theirs
  • Don’t be self-serving – Sure, you’re trying to get coverage for your business, product, service, etc. –but you will earn the media’s gratitude for life if you also offer something that’s not all about you.  If you have information that’s relevant to your industry and a story that’s currently trending (but not necessarily your business) you can email it to the reporter with your contact information in case they have any questions. Doing this can help you become the go-to person when they need a quote or soundbite from an “expert.”
  • Don’t be a stalker – There’s a fine line between following up and being annoying. It’s perfectly fine to follow up and make sure they received your information, but don’t hound them. Some media outlets specifically say not to contact them. They will be in touch if they are interested. You should honor those.  
  • The best times to call are mid-morning or early afternoon. Don’t call when they’re obviously on deadline (e.g. 5 pm)
  • Friend/follow them on social media—Interact with them when you have something of value to add (compliment them on a story, make a comment or ask a question), but mostly listen.

What do you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

If you know someone who needs to see this, please feel free to forward it to everyone in your network who will find it of value.

Thanks for sharing this space with me.

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