Kris Ruby of ruby media group

Pitch Perfect: Pitching the Media

Kris Ruby of ruby media group holding newspaper

How to get Media & Press Coverage for your business

Secrets, strategies, and tools from a PR Insider to help you get maximum media exposure

Hi! I am Kris Ruby. I have been successfully executing public relations campaigns for brands, entrepreneurs, and doctors in private practice for over twelve years. In this article, you will learn about the power of the press for your business. Think about your favorite magazine, trade publication, or blog you want to be in.

Can you imagine yourself being featured in national media outlets, podcasts, magazines, TV stations, and talk shows? Read this article to learn the insider tips, tools, and techniques to make it happen.

Press and media exposure leads to new partnerships, opportunities, and speaking engagements for your business.

Instead of trying to find the right customers, clients, and patients, imagine if they found YOU first through the media?

Benefits of PR for your business and medical practice:

  • Increase major traffic to your website
  • Get in front of a specific audience
  • Raise your visibility
  • Increase validation and legitimacy from third-party endorsements

Media Pitching Tips from a PR Pro

How can you craft the perfect pitch to a reporter? The truth is, pitching the media is an art and a craft. It isn’t as simple as doing just one or two things perfectly. You have to meet a set number of criteria that depend on several different variables at any given time.

In this Media Pitching guide, we break down what you need to know to increase the likelihood of your pitch getting picked up by top TV producers, reporters, and journalists at your favorite publications, newspapers, and magazines. How do you pitch the media like a pro? Keep reading..

What is a Media Pitch? 

A media pitch is an email to a journalist, booker, producer, or reporter that outlets the newsworthiness factor of the story you are trying to get on air through earned media coverage. The goal of a successful media pitch is to get the TV station, reporter, or podcast host to feature your business. Ideally, the media pitch will “sell” why the media should give your business or product free air time, as opposed to advertising, which is paid air time.

The goal of a media pitch is to ask the media outlet if they are interested in featuring your product, brand or newsworthy item. A media pitch could result in a successful press placement which includes being quoted, featured, mentioned, linked to, highlighted, or blasted to a select group of people that have opted to tune into the news from that media outlet.

What makes a good PR pitch?

A good PR pitch is concise, has a clear call to action, and contains actual news. It is not self-promotional and it is focused on how you can be helpful to service the media’s incoming requests around breaking news stories.

How do media pitches differ from press releases?

Media pitches are the best way to get your story heard in today’s competitive news environment. Press releases are better used for company announcements, events, or corporate communications PR campaigns. When should entrepreneurs write a media pitch vs. a press release?  Nine out of ten times, we always suggest writing a custom pitch vs. a press release.

Pitches should ideally be sent through email, whereas press releases can be submitted through the wire.

PITCHING A STORY TO THE MEDIA

How do I get the media’s attention?

pitching the media

Think like a reporter. Journalists write about stories that will be helpful to their readers. Producers create segments that are interesting to their viewers. Podcasters create content that is of interest to their listeners. If you want to be covered by any of these media outlets, the key is to think about what is most interesting to their audience.  Develop pitch angles from a journalist’s perspective, not from your own. It’s not about what is interesting to you; it is about what is interesting to them and their audience.

Solve Problems.  Reporters are always interested in uncovering new solutions to current problems that their readers may be facing. For example, maybe you have a unique take on vaping that hasn’t been covered. Propose a solution instead of saying what the problem is. Anyone can share the problem. Your unique perspective as a practitioner and expert source is what is of interest to a reporter. Journalists want to write about topics that will help their readers. Your pitch should be a solution, instead of a way to brag about your company.

Time your pitch with the news cycle.  Be able to answer the question: Why should a reporter write about this today? For example, if you are pitching a story about boating safety, it is unlikely that a reporter will be interested in covering this in the middle of a hurricane warning. Use common sense.

SECRETS TO PITCHING JOURNALISTS:

PR Tips & Tricks:

How do you pitch to the press?

The #1 way to pitch the press is by answering the 4 W’s first! So, what are the 4 w’s?

Before pitching a story idea, always be sure to address the following:

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why should they care?
  • Why should this be covered in the media?

Media Pitching Tips

How do you effectively pitch the media?

Making connections with broadcast and print media is vital to the success of your public relations campaign, but as the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Just because you think you have a great pitch idea doesn’t mean you’re ready to start pitching the media. Before you hit send, here are several steps to ensure that you maximize your chances at scoring national earned media coverage.

Components of a PR pitch message: facts, features, benefits.

PR tips how to pitch journalists

 

HOW TO PITCH A STORY TO THE MEDIA

How do you write a publicity pitch? Follow these tips to learn how to write a PR pitch to editors.

10 tips to maximize your chance of scoring top-tier press coverage.

Write the story you want told. Create a package that journalists can pull directly from complete with high-resolution photos, a bio, and a fact sheet.  Reporters want you to write the outline of the story for them so they can pitch it to their editor to see if it would be a good fit. Of course, they will rewrite everything you are sending and further flesh out the details, but it helps if you can paint the picture for them of the story you want shared.  Use numbers and statistics to strengthen credibility. Most importantly, always provide accurate, factual information. Don’t get blacklisted for providing inaccurate information to a reporter.

PR Tip: Be disruptive. Is your business disrupting the status quo in a specific industry? If so, point that out and show how.

Pitch the right editor. It sounds simple, but editors and producers move around frequently, and you could be pitching an editor who moved on to another publication six months ago. Take a few minutes to research the newspaper or TV station to make sure that the journalist is still on staff and that you have the right spelling of their name. For example, you’re about to pitch a media outlet a great segment idea about your newest product, but the contact name on your media list is actually the name of the entertainment editor. Make sure that you have the right person for your pitch and the correct email address. Also, don’t assume that the entertainment editor will send the pitch to the correct editor for you.

PR Tip: Sending a blanket pitch to everyone on staff is always a bad idea. Make sure your pitch is targeted to the right editor. 

Watch and read the news. Are you pitching The View? Make sure you’ve watched a few episodes. Are you pitching The New York Times travel editor? Read the section before pitching. Refer back to previous articles the journalist has written to make sure your pitch is focused on what they currently cover. Oddly enough, most people who pitch the media make the mistake of never researching them first. Consume the media like it is your full-time job. Study the publications that competitors are mentioned in and contact those media outlets first. Your story must have a “breaking news” factor and value to it. Evergreen content is great for your website, but not so great if you are pitching the media.

PR Tip: Watch the news. Read the publications that you want to get coverage in.

Time your pitch. Confine your pitching to the media on the days your pitch is most likely to be opened. The best days for pitching journalists are Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Emails sent on Friday will get pushed down by all the other pitches coming in over the weekend.

PR Tip: A recent study showed that most journalists prefer to receive pitches in the morning vs. in the evening.

Include a news peg: Make sure that you actually have a newsworthy PR pitch. Sending an email to a producer asking if they want to do a story about your company with no compelling news peg will land your pitch in their trash folder. Your PR pitch should include a specific idea and everything the producer will need, including quotes, photos, background information, etc.

PR Tip: Craft an electronic press kit (EPK) well before you pitch the media so that if an editor or producer reaches out, you can easily send it.

Don’t oversell: When pitching the media, leave out the jargon and, whatever you do, do not tell a journalist that you’re the first company to ever do so-and-so unless you can back it up. Also avoid using industry jargon including popular phrases like cutting edge, breakthrough, top, leading, and any over words that will immediately be cut.

PR Tip: Fact check your own fluff and hype.

Write a great headline: Editors won’t click on emails unless the subject line interests them, so make sure you create a compelling one. Oprah Winfrey reportedly received 15,000 emails a day from people pitching various products and ideas. Make sure your story idea stands out.

PR Tip: Ask yourself, “How can I make sure my pitch is read when someone is receiving 15k emails daily?”

Don’t pitch through social media. Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote earned media coverage, but they shouldn’t be used to pitch editors. Mikal Belicove of Forbes says that pitching him through Twitter isn’t “cool.” Instead, he says in this article, pitch him privately.

PR Tip: Pitch through email instead of via direct messaging on Twitter.

Give Ample Lead time: A Mother’s Day story idea shouldn’t be pitched the week before the big day if you are pitching a traditional publication. Newspapers need a few weeks of lead time while magazines work even further ahead. However, if you are pitching a broadcast outlet, the segment may be put together the day of with only a few hours notice from start to finish. Plan your pitch calendar accordingly.

PR Tip: Learn when newspaper deadlines are. Don’t pitch a story an hour before a reporters deadline. Insider tip- Request an editorial calendar through the advertising department to get a look at what stories will be covered for the year ahead.

Do not call reporters. In the past, public relations professionals were encouraged to follow up with a phone call to the media to see if their pitch garnered any interest from reporters. However, today, thanks to technology, editors are so bombarded with calls and emails that the protocol has changed. It’s okay to send one follow-up email, but if you don’t hear from the journalist after that, assume they aren’t interested.  The majority of reporters would prefer to be pitched through email. If they want to move forward, they will either email you or call you back to flesh out booking details.

PR Tip: Pick up the phone to pitch reporters after they have expressed inter9est in your pitch, not before!

You will not get media coverage because your business exists. This is not newsworthy after your first year in business. You have to come up with timely angles, hooks and pegs to capture the interest of the media. The ability to continuously capture the interest of media and reinvent a company over and over again to tell new stories with key messaging is what our PR firm does particularly well.

I always say it’s called earned media for a reason, earn it.

HOW TO WRITE A MEDIA PITCH

How do you pitch a story to a journalist?

How do you start a media pitch? For starters, draft your pitch in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and start out with a simple “Dear X (insert reporter’s name).” Next, bullet out the main points you want to include and close out your pitch with contact information and any press assets that add to the media pitch.

What should a media pitch include? Writing a pitch letter to the media (free tips!)

  • Read the last few months of content the reporter has written (search on Muck Rack).
  • Check out the reporter’s Twitter to see what they are currently covering and tweeting about.
  • Understand what the reporter covers, how they cover it, and the format they cover it in. For example, don’t pitch a profile piece if they typically write round-up articles.
  • Craft a pitch that mentions their previous work and what your story idea is.
  • Tell the reporter why they should cover this idea and how it ties into what they currently write about.
  • Answer the 4 W’s mentioned above.
  • Explain why your pitch is perfect for the publication and why they have to cover it now.
  • Is your pitch time-sensitive? Does it tie into a breaking news story? Is it an exclusive? Let the media know.
nyc media relations

HOW TO GET FREE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Get more media exposure and backlinks using this free PR growth hack

Our guide on how to pitch the media would not be complete if we left out HARO. Keep reading to learn how to pitch reporters using a free publicity service called HARO.

How can I get free publicity for my business?

If you choose not to hire a PR firm, one of the best ways to get free PR for your business is by utilizing HARO.

What is Help A Reporter Out (HARO)?

HARO is a free publicity tool that connects sources with journalists working on stories in real-time looking for subject matter experts to quote.

HARO is ideal for:

  • Brand building
  • Increasing earned media coverage & awareness
  • Link building
  • Forging new relationships with journalists

How do you use HARO effectively?

Yes, HARO does enable business owners to essentially act as their own PR firm, but that is really an oversimplification of what Public Relations agencies do. There are many intricacies that go into writing a pitch and getting it placed.

So, even though technology has made the tools available for free to connect with journalists, it doesn’t mean that every business owner has the skill set to write and craft pitches at a higher level and in a way that will resonate with reporters (and that follows best practices).

In order to use HARO effectively, you need to know how to give the reporter what they are looking for.

After responding to thousands of HARO queries and getting hundreds of media placements through HARO, here are my top tips for writing a successful HARO pitch to gain earned media coverage.

How do you write a successful HARO pitch?

1.  Provide substantive details pertaining to the story a journalist is writing.

2.  Do not ask reporters if they want to see more information. Instead, provide this information upfront.

3.  Give reporters what they are asking for.

4.  Provide contact details of the source and subject matter expert in the pitch.

5.  Answer the questions in a timely fashion (and by the deadline!).

6.  Include relevant bullets to break up your pitch.

How to use HARO to get publicity

Ideally, you want to make sure website visitors from HARO query mentions convert to new leads and customers. The best way to do this is to make sure you are spending time answering the right types of HARO queries versus replying to every PR query in your feed.

How do you respond to HARO queries?

Before replying to a HARO query, ask:

  • Is the query relevant to my industry?
  • Is the query from a high-profile website?
    • Hint: Skip anonymous queries.
  • Do you meet all of the writer’s credential requirements to answer the query? If not, skip it.

Review the type of media outlet

  • Is it a national outlet, or is it anonymous? If it’s anonymous, we’re most likely going to skip it because it’s too big of a gamble.

Deadline

  • Next, I look at the deadline. Do I think that I can get the answer from the client before the deadline? If I don’t think that I’m not going to pitch it, I’ll let them know about the opportunity. But that’s always really important.

Criteria

  • Carefully review the source criteria and qualifications. Is my client the best possible source for what they’re looking for? Maybe there’s a query where there are five health questions, but they really want a nurse and not the type of doctor that I have who can answer the question. So that’s something else I’ll look at. I go through the internal media assessment checklist.

Should I answer anonymous queries on HARO?

It’s 50-50 and can really go either way. Sometimes, an anonymous query or “cloaked” query can actually be a major outlet, but they have an internal editorial policy, which may state they don’t want someone else scooping up the story and they prefer that their writers not use HARO. That reporter may post the query as anonymous so that technically it doesn’t look like they are using the service.

Another reason the reporter may post the query as anonymous is because it is from a much smaller site and they know that no one is going to answer their query if they say, “This is for my hole in the wall blog that no one has ever heard of.” It’s a gamble!

PR-Checklist Before Pitching the Media:

Before you click send, review the following in our 5-step media pitch PR checklist:

  1. Write the story you want told. What is your dream headline? Write it!
  2. Consume the news. Read the publications that you want to get press coverage in.
  3. Time your pitch with the news cycle.
  4. Make sure your pitch is targeted to the right editor.
  5. Proof your pitch in Grammarly and Microsoft Word.

Pro Tip: Want to increase the click-through rate on your PR pitches to the media? Editors are more likely to open email pitches with subject lines that mention the media outlet and topic because freelance writers work for so many different outlets.  Make sure the subject of the email pitch is relevant to the query and create compelling titles.

In a recent podcast interview I was asked, “In your role owning a top New York PR agency, when you have three opportunities in front of you, how do you select a media opportunity and say, this gets my time and what is the delegation and prioritization process when reviewing media queries?”

Our media relations guide contains the criteria I use to determine what queries are relevant to reply to. You can snag a copy here.

Media Relations Guide: Journalists Tips on PR pitching best practices

Do free media query services really work?

Free media query services work but they only take you so far. If you don’t know the art of storytelling or how to pitch a journalist, it doesn’t matter if the media service is free or paid because you won’t be giving a reporter what they are looking for. So, do free media services really work? Yes. But the better question is, do you effectively know how to utilize free media query services? You can hand someone a free tool, or an expensive one. The cost does not matter if the person doesn’t know how to use the tool to their advantage.

Like most things in life, most people don’t have the time to learn every new tool or subject area. This is why you handle a PR firm to do this for you. PR agencies like ours use both free and paid media query services. What differentiates the free and paid services is not only the quality of the sources but the understanding of the professionals utilizing them. For example, if we are utilizing a paid media query service and pitching against our PR professionals, the competition will be steeper than if we are pitching against people who are pitching themselves without a PR firm on a free media query service.

How To Get A Reporter Interested In Your Business

The best way to pitch a journalist is to make sure you add substantial value to their reporting. What can you offer them that another subject matter expert or source can’t?

  • Do you have research you can share with them?
  • Did you commission a study where a reporter may want to pick up the study findings?

DAILY PR TIPS (RECURRING):

  • Read the news daily, stay up to date with current events
  • Be active on Twitter and follow journalists

WEEKLY PR TIPS:

  • Keep track of all pitches that are sent out in Smartsheet or Google Doc and follow up weekly
  • Research writer’s previous articles and social media channels before pitching
  • Send journals press material or content you have written pertaining to the story before the interview with ample time to review

What successful PR tactics have you used to pitch the media to secure press for your business, medical practice, or law firm? We would love to hear!

PUBLIC RELATIONS SERVICES | MEDIA RELATIONS & PR FIRM IN NYC

Ruby Media Group Inc. is a full-service media relations and public relations agency located in New York. RMG strategically creates publicity plans to meet your unique PR goals while maximizing local, regional, and national media exposure. As an on-air television commentator and contributor for editorial outlets, RMG’s Founder Kris Ruby knows how to effectively pitch doctors, lawyers, executives, and medical experts to the media. Kris has built relationships with reporters, journalists, bookers, and producers for over a decade. The top NY PR firm receives media requests daily from producers and journalists looking to fulfill editorial needs, podcast booking needs, and TV booking requests. Want to be considered for these media interviews and publicity requests? Contact us today to learn more about our PR services!

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How To Pitch Journalists

Still curious about how to pitch the media like a PR pro? We understand! PR can be overwhelming and staying up with breaking news is a full-time job! Our PR firm is constantly monitoring the news cycles to look for opportunities to tie our clients into the news so they can just show up and provide quotes! We do the hard work for you. You supply us with the answers to reporters’ queries and let us work our PR magic and do the rest! Contact us today to learn more about how we can craft successful and engaging media pitches for you to score massive earned media coverage in regional, national, and medical trade publications.

How to Pitch the Media Resources:

Make sure your story gets picked up with these additional resources on pitching the media! 

Media Pitching 101 Webinar

Media Relations Guide

Get Booked on TV: How To Pitch Your Company to a TV Show

 

*Date last updated August 2021 

Media Relations Guide