You have news you want to share and want to get media coverage about it. So you’ve created a press release and put it on the wire, and now you wait until the media hits roll in, right? Well, sort of. When you place a press release on the wire you may get a few press hits from the various news sites that pick up the release and run it as is. But to garner the feature story, the one that includes an interview and really tells the story of the company/news you are trying to share, you’ll need to pitch the story to the editors, writers, and reporters. Every PR person will tell you, the pitch is the single most important part of the media outreach process and often makes the difference between oodles of feature stories or no coverage at all.
First things first, you’ll want to make sure you have a robust media list with appropriate contacts from all types of outlets including online, print, podcasts, and TV spanning local, regional, national, industry-focused publications. Don’t forget industry influencers as part of your outreach list, they can be very useful in helping to generate awareness for your news among target audiences. Draft notes on each media contact and their areas of focus or beat. Pitching a story about a new tech gadget to a reporter who covers politics will yield only crickets (and annoyances). Know your reporters, find out who covers your product/area of expertise/topic, and target your list accordingly. Once your lists are ready to roll, you can begin pitching. For optimal results, we recommend the following steps.
1.Catchy headline: When emailing your press contacts, use a catchy subject heading on your email. The email subject line is your first and best opportunity to catch their attention and pique their interest. We all receive way too many emails each day, to ensure yours gets opened by the reporter, make a good first impression.
2. Include the correct pitch anatomy: Your pitch is an introduction to further capture the reporter’s attention and interest. It should not be a novel, nor should it spell out all the information provided in the press release in the same sterile language. Keep your email personable and approachable. Within a few sentences you should tell the reporter the following:
- The Who/What/Where/Why/When of the news you are sharing
- Why the news is timely and why they should cover the story now
- What is the value to their readers or audience? Why does the world need to know this news?
- A call to action – would the reporter like to schedule an interview, learn more information or need additional background on the topic in order to write the story?
3. Tailor the pitch: Reporters are individuals just like you and me. And though their beat might widely be described as “tech,” research will show that they likely have sub-interests under the larger category umbrella. Look through past articles they’ve written, check out their Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, and try to hone in on their particular interest areas. Then tailor your pitch to speak to these interest areas. You might say something like, “I saw your recent article on XYZ topic and thought you would be interested to learn about ABC and how it directly relates to XYZ.”
4. Provide additional assets: Include links and all materials (within reason!) that they might need to write the story. Make their job easy. In addition to your press release, let them know that you have images or graphics you can share with them. Pro tip: Collect all assets in a Dropbox folder and include a link to the folder in your email so they have easy access.
As with everyone else, reporters are busy folks. Don’t be afraid to follow up one or two times to ensure they saw the original pitch email. Often, reporters will have flagged the email and forgotten to respond. Or perhaps the story isn’t a good fit for their readers/publication. Either way, offer yourself as a resource should they ever want/need to cover your specific topic area in the future, and if you don’t get a response within a couple of tries, by all means, stop bugging them. Happy pitching!
Diana Crawford is a seasoned public relations consultant with more than 15 years of agency, consulting, and in-house experience. She joined Orapin in 2013 and manages account services and client communications strategy development. She has worked across a variety of sectors and has expertise with professional services, food/alcohol, health and wellness, lifestyle, sports, education, tech, and non-profit industries.