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Insider Secrets to Crafting the Perfect Pitch

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Today we listened to former CBS News Executive Producer Batt Humphrey’s Webinar on Media Relations. His focus was on how to create PR pitches that earn broadcast coverage. Humphrey’s is a former CBS News executive with 20 years of experience in network television.

He discussed his experience as the Executive Producer of a network morning show, how media focus can shift at the drop of a hat, and how to craft your story to get traction in your target media outlet.

If you want to learn how to make the media want to cover your story, think like a producer and read some of our top takeaway tips below.

What is a TV Producers’ job?

To find the best story. The best stories make the best media segments. Once you understand how producers think, you will be better equipped to craft the right pitch to tell your story.

Life’s a Pitch

Crafting the best pitch

  • Before sending a pitch, think of yourself standing in front of all of the producers during their morning meeting. Can you honestly see someone going to bat for your story idea and pushing it forward in the morning editorial meeting? If not, then don’t send it.
  • You are essentially selling content. If your content is not good, the network risks losing viewers. They are only going to push forward interesting content that will increase viewership.
  • Stop pitching broadcast the way you pitch traditional editorial outlets. A producer isn’t interested in the standard press release or pitch. They want to know what the story is, who the talent is, and what your unique take is. If you don’t have any takeaways for the audience, the story will get canned.

Evolving your story

You need clarity, conciseness, and connection.

  • Clarity – Good stories are simple at their core.
  • Concise –Think short sentences.
  • Connection – Think of your audience and your unique element.

 PR Pitching Tips for Broadcast News

  • Follow the news cycle & look for connections to trending stories
  • Know the evergreen topics for slow days
  • Use your own research. Data rules
  • If it’s a breaking news day, find any tie in that is truly authentic

What PR content has the best chance of being placed?

  • 39% said exclusive research. Original research is always preferred by reporters.
  • 27% said Breaking news.
  • 15% said emotional stories. There is no downside to sharing a heart-warming story if you can work it into a pitch.

Key Takeaways

Your story must bring value to the audience. Be able to answer the following questions before pitching a producer:

  • What does the audience gain from the story?
  • How will it improve their business or life?
  • Does the story wow with technology or industry knowledge?
  • Is there a personal lesson to learn?

Even if you have crafted the perfect pitch, be aware of news cycles and do not pitch if there is a tragic event. This goes without saying, but do not send releases if there is a tragic news story and don’t try to capitalize on a tragedy.

If you genuinely want to establish a relationship with a producer, think like the producer and wait for a story you think you can land with a high-value target. If you jump the gun, you run the chance of being blacklisted.

pitching broadcast tips for Media relations


“Can you ask the reporter if we can review and edit quotes before the article is live?”

How do you approach a journalist? 

Give journalists what they want, how they want it, when they want it and in the preferred format they want expert commentary in.

Can you ask a reporter to review a quote prior to publication?

Even though it is traditionally frowned upon to ask this question – I have come to change my stance on this over the years. Here’s why.

Asking a reporter if you can fact check source quotes is reasonable. The worst thing they can say is no and move on to the next source. Any journalist worth their salt would want the source to fact check provided quotes to make sure they are not misconstruing the expert commentary.

It shouldn’t be a given that sources lose the right to fact check and confirm what they have said before a story runs – especially when you are referring to medical public relations and healthcare reporting.

There is a fundamental difference between asking to review an editorial feature story vs. wanting to fact check statements you are providing.

With the rise of AI in Journalism – the likelihood of journalists making mistakes will infinitely increase – especially as more reporters rely on automated AI interview transcription services.

If a journalist transcribes a quote wrong and it runs in an article – it hurts the source and the journalist.

The media is changing, and PR firms need to adapt.

The rise of new AI technology introduces a host of errors into the reporting process.

Publicists who say that it is unreasonable to ask to see quotes before they run are doing their clients a disservice.

The request isn’t about wanting a story to be published in a positive light – it is about making sure someone’s words are accurately portrayed.

With medical source quotes, one wrong word can change the entire meaning of a sentence (or a diagnosis!).

When you are dealing with a doctor’s medical license on the line – it is reasonable to make sure the reporter will fact check the statement before the interview runs.

Publicists who say, “that’s not how the media works,” are wrong. This advice is outdated.

It is better to fact check something before something airs – then after it airs.

When it comes to medical PR – one wrong fact can cause material damage to a doctor, which can lead to a host of reputation issues and negative publicity.

Remember, anyone who tells you “that’s not how the media works,” is only looking out for their own best interest – not yours. As publicists, we need to create win-win opportunities for our clients and members of the press.