Getting ink in today’s media landscape is no easy task. Newsrooms are understaffed and reporters are underworked, but despite the challenges, there are ways to approach your PR mission that help you stand out among the masses.
And while no exact formula leads to guaranteed success, it’s not as much of a mystery as you may think.
Crafting a PR pitch is one of the most important parts of the media relations process. It’s the foundation of your media outreach efforts, so it’s essential to understand how to do it right.
The key to crafting a winning pitch is to package it in a compelling and newsworthy story. A story that explains why the work you do is important, rather than a pitch that just highlights what you do. Media look for relevant, timely and newsworthy stories. They want to see how your brand fits into what’s happening in the world – a trend, a popular news topic or something that isn’t currently being said or done in your industry.
And unless you’re trailblazing a new industry or setting the news cycle, you’ll need to find a way to tie your brand into a discussion that transcends what you do. Offering a different perspective within that conversation gives you the opportunity to put your head above the noise.
Media, just like the rest of us, don’t all like the same thing.
Pitching a relevant and newsworthy story is essential, but the story has to also match the interest of your target journalists.
It may sound simple enough, but pitching a reporter, who based on their bio, covers “technology” and “business,” won’t necessarily bite on a story about a technology start-up or a business launching a new technology.
Before picking up the phone or clicking send on an email, do your homework on the reporter. Read past articles in search of a common theme or area of interest to help tailor your pitch to their interests. It shows that you took the time to understand what they consider newsworthy and immediately positions you as a useful resource.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words and that saying rings true when it comes to how you pitch media your story.
Having a great, relevant story may get a reporter to bite, but taking the next step for them and illustrating how the story can evolve helps bring it to life in the mind of a reporter.
Rather than just offering them resources, assets or access, show them how the things you’re offering can help build out the story. If they can interview your CEO, tell them what kinds of newsworthy topics and angles they could discuss. If they can tour your company’s facility, store or office, tell them why that’d be interesting and what they’d see.
I’ve had many experiences when there’s been radio silence on the other end of the line, until I mention that my source can provide commentary on a specific (and newsworthy) topic. Then, the response is often “Oh, that’s interesting.”
Can’t get the reporter to bite? Test the waters and ask them. By getting their thoughts on a few different angles, you turn what could have been a short-lived, one-way pitch into a conversation.
Every PR practitioner has experienced it. The phones that keep ringing. The emails that go unanswered. It’s just the worst. Rather than focusing on how many calls you make or emails you send, think about the best way to make a connection – not a pitch.
We all know how much the media landscape has changed, from understaffed and overworked newsrooms to fewer beat reporters. And while many PR professionals have developed solid relationships with various reporters, it’s no longer the best way to get your foot in the door due to constant turnover.
As a result, PR practitioners have to find increasingly creative ways to break through the clutter and connect with a media contact.
Emailing and calling are still viable ways to make contact, but social media platforms open new avenues to reach out and provide insight into a reporter’s personality and interests.
For example, I had been attempting to get in touch with a GQ fashion editor for weeks to no avail. I kept up with his Twitter feed to see if he mentioned something that could create an opening. One day, he tweeted about the TV show, True Detective, and the lackluster effort Season 2 had put forward (which, can we all agree, was no match for the first season’s Matthew McConaughey). So I decided to open my email pitch to him by referencing that tweet. He responded, joking that mentioning his Twitter was the secret to getting him to respond to an email.
That approach probably won’t work with every reporter, but like most people, not everyone likes the same approach. Taking a step back and thinking outside the framework you’re working in can often lead to creative solutions and inspire new ideas – and that’s the important point to keep in mind.
Looking at a pitch as more than just a pitch, but as an evolving story, conversation and connection with another person can give you a better chance of turning your pitch into a story.
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