This story was co-written by Ana Marquez.
It’s the bottom of the ninth. Bases are loaded, the pressure is on to get that top tier media placement, and you’re setting up to pitch.
Who is at bat? Your media contacts.
In the past, they’ve intimidated you, they’ve ignored your attempts at pitching and they’ve never given you the time of day.
This time is different. This time you’re more prepared than ever before because you’ve put in the work – you spent hours perfecting this pitch, you know their sweet spots and you know how to better deliver your pitch.
If clicking “send” on an email pitch was the equivalent of the sweet release of a baseball from your fingertips and into the catcher’s mitt, this is that moment.
Striking out – that’s the goal we all have when pitching media. We want to deliver that pitch that piques the interest of a journalist, earns media respect and garners the attention we feel our client deserves.
It’s not always a smooth process, in fact, it hardly ever is, but follow these three tips to make your pitch count with the media:
Strike 1: Pre-Game
Stretch your knowledge about the media landscape you’ll be pitching by delving into research. It’s about more than simply reading headlines only to seek a timely opportunity.
Pay close attention to journalist writing styles and try to mimic that in your pitch. The more you know beforehand, the more you can anticipate what kind of angle and content they prefer. Read up on their most recent stories to understand what topics interest them right now and to see if there’s an opportunity to pitch them a strong follow up story.
How do you determine if the story is worthy of a follow up? First, are there new developments in the story coming down the pike that your client might be able to comment on? Second, can your client bring a new perspective to the table that can bring new life to the story? Another pre-game tactic is researching new reports or surveys that may add timeliness and urgency to your story idea.
Strike 2: Flex
As an all-star pitcher, you should be in perfect shape to throw all kinds of pitches. If you’re not, practice writing in different formats and styles. Changing the way you write a pitch, especially if you are presenting repurposed information, can make all the difference in how it’s received.
Flex those writing muscles and show your versatility. Be flexible when it comes to changing up your pitch depending on who’s in the batter’s box. When you’re pitching national media, keep your pitches short and straight to the point. Remember their deadlines are tighter and they tend to get many more pitches than a local or trade reporter.
Pay close attention to your subject line and lead-in sentence. How you write them can make or break your story. The subject line should appeal to curiosity and tell the reporter why their readers should care. Similar to the subject line, the lead-in sentence should state an issue, be intriguing and also explain why their readers should care.
When it comes to pitching local media, two things are important, having a local angle to the story and a local expert source. While pitching trade is a bit less rigid, allows for more technical language and editors usually accept topics that are more niche.
Strike 3: Sportsmanship
Make it a point to attend local media events and get to know the journalists. Not only will it help you understand them better, it will foster the kind of relationship that could lead to future opportunities.
But before you venture out to meet with a reporter, make sure you do your homework and come to the table with story ideas on your clients.
Check out what Amy Reyes, entertainment editor for Miami.com, had to say about the importance of PR/media relationships and her special to rbb:
As we just saw in the World Series, a strong pitch can make all the difference in whether a journalist will work with you. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be sure to strike out!