How to make sure your story gets picked up
How should 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 have what you think is a great pitch doesn’t mean that you are ready to start pitching the media. Before you do so, there are several steps you should take to make sure that you maximize your chance at scoring coverage.
Get the name right: It sounds simple, but editors move around frequently and you could be pitching an editor who moved on to another publication six months ago. Take a few minutes to call the newspaper or TV station and make sure that the journalist is still on staff and that you have the right spelling of his or her name. While you’re at it, ask if you have the right gender too. Does “Kelly” want to be called a Mr. or Ms.? Is Charlie a man or is it short for Charlene?
Title confusion: You want to start pitching the media a great segment about your newest product, but the name on your list is actually the name of the entertainment editor. Make sure that you have the right person for your pitch and their correct email address. Do not assume that the entertainment editor will send the pitch on for you. On the other hand, sending a blanket pitch out to everyone on staff is a bad idea. Make sure that your pitch is targeted to the right editor.
Watch and read: Pitching The View? Make sure you’ve watched a few episodes. Pitching The New York Times travel editor? Read the section before pitching. Refer back to previous articles written.
Timing is everything: At most, you should confine your pitching to the media to once or twice a week, but make sure that day is Tuesday-Thursday . Friday night emails will get pushed down by all the other emails that will come in during the weekend.
Pitch perfect: Make sure that you actually have a newsworthy pitch. Sending an email to a producer asking if they want to do a segment about your company will have the producer pressing the delete button before you’ve had your morning cup of coffee. Your pitch should include a specific idea and everything the producer will need, including quotes, photos, background information, etc. In other words, make sure your press kit is ready to go when an editor or producer comes calling.
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.
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. That’s a lot of emails! Make sure your story idea stands out.
Social media snafu: Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote your hits, but not 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.
Lead time: A Mother’s Day story idea shouldn’t be pitched the week before the big day. Newspapers and broadcast media need a few weeks of lead time while magazines work even further ahead. Plan your pitch calendar accordingly.
Call me, maybe: 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, but 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 do not hear from the journalist, assume that they are not interested or that they will get back in touch with you if they are.