How to get Media Coverage: 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 I get the media’s attention?
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 journalists 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!
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?
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.
HOW TO PITCH 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 told. 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 their 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 “breaking news” value to it. Evergreen content is great for your web site, 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 emails coming in on 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 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 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 e-mail 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 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 interest in your pitch, not before!
What should a media pitch include?
- Read the last few months of content the reporter has written (search on Muckrack).
- Check out the reporters 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 idea is.
- Tell them 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 to into a breaking news story? Is this an exclusive? Let the media know!
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 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 through utilizing HARO.
What is Help A Reporter Out (HARO)?
HARO is a free publicity tool that connects sources with journalists who are working on stories looking for 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 over simplification of what PR 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 they are writing.
2. Do not ask reporters if they want to see more information.
3. Give reporters what they are asking for.
4. Provide contact details of the source.
5. Answer the questions in a timely fashion (and by deadline!).
6. Include relevant bullets to break up your pitch.
How to use HARO to get publicity
Ideally, you want to make sure web site 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 site?
- Hint: Skip anonymous queries.
- Do you meet all of the writers credential requirements to answer the query? If not, skip it!
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 really a gamble!
PR-Checklist Before Pitching the Media:
Before you click send, review the following in our 5-step media pitch PR checklist:
- Write the story you want told. What is your dream headline? Write it!
- Consume the news. Read the publications that you want to get press coverage in.
- Time your pitch with the news cycle.
- Make sure your pitch is targeted to the right editor.
- Proof your pitch in Grammarly and Microsoft Word.
Pro Tip: Want to increase the click through rate on your PR pitches to 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.
WANT MORE PR SECRETS?
DOWNLOAD: THE BEST WAYS TO GET FREE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS
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 you 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
*Date last updated 2019
Media Relations Guide