When I entered the workforce after graduating, I quickly learned that I obtained many informative and useful skills in college, but how to pitch to media was not one of them. In fact, I was not taught this at all, and I found that I was not alone. It seems that many universities overlook the topic of media pitching, and position it as a “learn as you go” skill.
I will not deny that the art of media pitching does get better with practice, but having known this information before I entered the workforce would have saved me from many headaches (and maybe some ugly cries, too).
Pitching to the media is a skill that’s often overlooked, but extremely valuable in the public relations industry. Take a look at 8THIRTYFOUR’s tips for media pitching:
Pitches are like snowflakes – No two pitches are alike.
If you’re copying and pasting the same pitch to every reporter, chances are you won’t get much feedback. The same pitch that you send to local business publication, MiBiz, should not be the same pitch you send to hyperlocal news source, The Rapidian — and rightfully so.
Do your research, and tailor each pitch to the intended publication, and writer. The customization of your pitch will pay off in the long run. Identify the angle that each writer uses based on their content area, and provide specific information that aligns.
Reporters receive hundreds of emails and phone calls every day, and the majority of these are pitch-related. How will you make your communication stand out from the rest? Maybe it’s including supplementary materials such as fact sheets or media advisories with your pitch, or including an eye-catching infographic, or using a humorous subject line. Think outside of the box when pitching to the media in order to receive the most traction.
Initially, follow up with the media. Then, follow up again. Then, follow up some more.
From personal experience, reporters are more likely to respond to a follow-up inquiry, opposed to an original inquiry. Like I mentioned, reporters receive hundreds of email and phone call pitches every day and it’s easy for your communication to get lost in translation. If a reporter doesn’t respond to your initial inquiry, don’t be offended. I recommend following up 2-3 times over a period of 2-3 weeks after your initial pitch. Remember to be creative when following up with the media, as well (see above).
For many reasons, follow-ups are as important, if not more important, than your original pitch. (Note: Don’t be that really annoying PR professional that stalks reporters. There’s a fine line between following up appropriately and being creepy.)
Relationships are key.
We’ve probably said this 1,000 times on our blog, but relationships are key when it comes to pitching to the media. Think about the process of media pitching from start-to-finish… How much easier would this be if you were pitching to a friend, rather than a stranger?
Build relationships with the media. It will make your life much easier, and reporters appreciate it, too.
For more tips on how to master various public relations components, take a look at our previous blogs:
- The basics of media preparation
- Measuring the effectiveness of PR
- How to write a killer press release
- Why you should build a PR calendar
- PR can’t fix stupid
Written by: Emma Thibault