As a public relations professional, one of the most basic things you write is a pitch to the media. A media pitch is helpful to accompany a press release, to convince a journalist why your story should be covered or in a time crunch, a pitch can even replace a press release. But how do you ensure a successful pitch?
It’s all about relationships: No matter how many times you’re told this, you always need to hear it one more time. Reporters have jobs too. They aren’t going to listen to every PR person that calls or emails them. Finding key people to help your clients and maintaining good relationships with them, such as getting them information on time, remembering personal information and only pitching stories to them that you know they would have interest in covering, can really help show that you aren’t just trying to use them for their coverage, but do in fact value their time.
Timing is everything: Reporters are just as busy as you are: They don’t want to hear about stories that aren’t newsworthy. Try to keep in mind the relevance of your topic to each reporter and keep your pitches to around 15-30 seconds. Also, try to avoid calling the office at the busiest times of the day. For TV, the busiest times are around the morning, noon, and evening newscast. Newspapers have deadlines in the evening, so call them well before, when they aren’t working against the clock. Lastly, keep magazine calls between 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., which gives them time to settle in for the day before becoming bombarded with pitches.
Follow-ups and persistence are musts: Many times, stories are never covered because they get lost or forgotten about. There is a fine line between persistence and annoyance, but if you truly know your story is beneficial to that report, there is no shame in making sure they received enough information on it. Even if they don’t end up using your story, follow-ups, including a thank you, can help maintain that relationship that is so important in this industry.
Learning key concepts in pitching the media is an invaluable resource in the PR field. Pitches are one of the simplest forms of reaching out to the media, and once you begin to become more comfortable with media pitches, all these concepts will become second nature to you.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jessica Ross.