Most companies would love to be the subject of constant, positive, unprompted coverage, however the reality is that journalists are more likely to cover your organisation in this way if your business has made a mistake, or is in crisis. Good-news stories normally rely on proactive efforts by the communications team to disseminate information.
You can’t just write a media release and expect journalists to come knocking at your door. For the best chance of success, you need to package your news in a way that lets journalists clearly understand why it’s important for their audience to know about it.
Media releases have their place however depending on the story it can be more effective to pitch stories directly to a journalist whose audience is likely to be interested.
Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day. Assuming you have a great story (don’t even bother pitching if you don’t), it can still be hard to stand out from the crowd.
These six tips will help maximise your chances of success:
1. Know how the journalist likes to receive pitches
Journalists get a lot of pitches, so your challenge is to make your pitch stand out. Keep track of which journalists prefer to be called and which journalists like to be emailed. When emailing, make your subject lines clear and catchy. Journalists have limited time and will decide whether or not to read your pitch, or even open your email, based on whether your subject line is attention-grabbing and sounds interesting.
2. If you don’t have anything relevant, hold off for a more suitable opportunity
Sometimes content simply isn’t ready to be pitched. If you pitch multiple small-scale stories to a journalist, they might be less interested in a bigger pitch later down the track. In some cases, it’s worth holding your pitches until they develop into more significant content.
3. Know the media outlet
Research the outlet the journalist works for. Make sure your pitch suits the outlet, its themes, and its audience. If your pitch is relevant, a journalist is more likely to pick it up.
4. Think big
Offer the journalist insight into your industry’s context, and relate your pitch to current trends or events. Consider how your product or service relates to contemporary industry challenges.
5. Pitch early and respect deadlines
Journalists juggle multiple competing tasks and stories every day, so your pitch won’t necessarily be the most important thing they work on. Give journalists lots of time to prepare. Don’t pitch to them on deadline day, and don’t pitch too close to a large event that you want attention for. Timing is crucial when contacting journalists about stories. The closer deadlines get, the less journalists search for new content. Increase your chances of success by giving journalists time to plan.
6. Be brief, be helpful, and know your topic
When you pitch to a journalist, be engaging and responsive. Answer the journalist’s questions, and ask questions yourself, so you understand the angle and what questions to expect later down the line. Make yourself accessible for further communication, and maintain a positive relationship, even after you are (hopefully) covered. You never know when you’ll need to pitch to this journalist again in the future. If you have good rapport and build trust with a journalist, you’ll find it easier to work together in future.
For more information on pitching stories to journalists, or to book a media training session, contact us today.