This article first appeared on The Agency Post 6.19.12 and is cross-posted with permission.
You’re probably thinking, “Of course I know how to pitch the media.” But do you really? The days of simply pulling a media list from a media directory service and blasting out a press release to hundreds (or thousands) of media contacts are over.
Of course, some of the basics haven’t changed:
1. Stay on top of breaking news. Know where your client may fit in, so you aren’t pitching at an inappropriate time.
2. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes — understand, appreciate, anticipate.
3. Act with integrity and respect — never lie.
4. Be accessible and straightforward — deliver well thought-out responses and never “ad lib.”
Like other professions, journalists are now doing more with less. They’re covering more beats/subjects, writing more stories (and in many cases also writing blog posts), and doing so with shorter deadlines.
You’ve no doubt heard the adage, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” This really applies here! We must be diligent in digging deeper — looking at past stories, reading the journalist’s or outlet’s blog, virtually getting to know the person so we’re confident our news is a good fit.
Marketing thought leader Seth Godin hit the nail on the head when he said, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.” He was talking about digital media marketing, but it applies in modern media relations as well.
Here are five questions you can ask yourself before pitching a story:
- Is the content pertinent and fresh (aka newsworthy) — not too far past, but not too far in the future?
- Have you stated actual facts in your news release — products, services, events, people, projects, while avoiding jargon or specialized technical terms?
- Do you have facts, statistics, photos, quotes, backup stories, video or audio, and experts available where you need them?
- Have you tailored the pitch to the specific interests of the targeted journalist/ blogger?
- Are you capable of presenting your pitch — complete with the significance of the story, the unique angle, the connection to their readers, and its relevance — in 30 to 60 seconds? (Note: It’s not a bad idea to practice your pitch with colleagues or friends.)
This isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive checklist, but if you answered “yes” to all five it certainly stacks the odds in your favor.