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How to Pitch to Journalists

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Date

Mar 20, 2024

Read Time

min read

Date

Mar 20, 2024

Read Time

min read

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Our tips for pitching to journalists: 1. Find the right journalist 2. Choose your channel 3. Establish the client as an expert 4. Craft a compelling written pitch 5. Maximise opportunities Key takeaways

Securing media coverage is one string to a PR agency’s bow, but it can be an incredibly powerful tool for brands that want to boost audience awareness and develop and maintain their reputation.

However, the media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and, with many journalists receiving upwards of 100 pitches every day, it’s more difficult than ever to secure impactful PR coverage in trusted media outlets.

As competition for column inches becomes even more fierce, effective pitching is essential to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of the media. Here are our top tips to set your pitch up for success:

Our tips for pitching to journalists:

  1. Find the right journalist
  2. Choose your channel
  3. Establish the client as an expert
  4. Craft a compelling written pitch
  5. Maximise opportunities

1. Find the right journalist

The first step towards a successful pitch is to identify which publications and journalists your story will appeal to. Pitching an irrelevant story not only wastes the journalists’ time and yours, but also risks damaging your relationship with them in the long-term.

There are lots of tools and software available to help identify journalists in relevant sectors and titles, and these can be a great place to start when deciding who to pitch to. However, the only way to gain a deep understanding of which stories will appeal to which journalists is to read the media that’s relevant to the subject or industry you’re working within. This will give you a snapshot of what’s being covered and by who, so you can tailor your pitches accordingly.

Social media is another useful tool for providing insight into what journalists are talking about and the stories they’re interested in. So, ensure you’re following relevant press on all channels and paying close attention to what type of content they’re sharing and interacting with.

2. Choose your channel

There are several ways to pitch a story or feature to the media and they all have their place.

We know that most journalists check their emails for new stories at the very beginning of their day, usually before they’ve reached the office, so if you’re pitching news, it’s always worth starting with an email first thing.

However, there’s nothing quite like speaking to people over the phone to build relationships and convey ideas. In addition, speaking to a journalist over the phone allows you to develop concepts together and find the story angle that will work best for their publication.

Finally, an increasing number of journalists are turning to social media to source content. So, it’s also worth reaching out to relevant journalists on platforms like LinkedIn and X to pitch in a story.

Each journalist has their preferred time, channel, and format for receiving pitches, so take the time to understand how your target media like to work and adjust your approach accordingly.

3. Establish the client as an expert

Journalists are more likely to take comments, research, and opinions from sources that are deemed to be reputable, so positioning the company or spokesperson you’re pitching as an expert in their field is vital to securing media coverage.

Achieving “expert” status can also prompt journalists to reach out proactively when they require a trusted voice to provide comments on stories they are working on, which should be the ultimate goal of any press office.

Establishing spokespeople as industry leaders can’t be done overnight. It takes time to build relationships and trust with journalists. As a starting point, we’d recommend including a short bio within your pitches to demonstrate their credentials – and provide a link to their LinkedIn profile for further information.

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  • three women talking

4. Craft a compelling written pitch

The length, content, and structure of your pitch will vary depending on the story you’re pitching and the journalist you’re contacting.

That being said, there are some best practices which should always be followed. For example, aim to include as few steps as possible, making it really easy for journalists to get the information they need to cover the story. This includes adding press releases, images, background information and any other assets relevant to the story in the body of the email so journalists don’t need to open or download any attachments to understand the gist of the pitch.

Other tricks you can employ to stand out from the competition include:

  • Keeping subject lines short and clear
  • Adding personalisation, like naming the publication
  • Closing the pitch with a direct question to prompt an answer

5. Maximise opportunities

One mistake that is often made when it comes to pitching is only doing the process once. Creating a compelling piece of content for the media takes work, so it makes sense get the very most out of it.

There are plenty of ways to maximise opportunities within the media beyond the initial sell-in. For example, pivoting the story by finding a new angle, gathering new case studies, or new data to add an additional hook and re-pitching the idea to relevant journalists who didn’t cover the story initially.  Once you’re confident you’ve exhausted all opportunities within the media, consider other ways to repurpose the content. This might include social media posts, webinars, newsletters, or onsite content.

Key takeaways

There is no perfect recipe for pitching as every sector, title and journalist requires a slightly different approach. However, there are some key ingredients that will set you up for success, no matter what you’re pitching:

  • Keep abreast of the media relevant to your company or client to allow you to pitch only to journalists you know will be interested in the story
  • Find out their preferred method of contact and communicate with them in this way
  • Position the client as an expert and include evidence to back-up your claims
  • Minimise the steps required for the journalists to understand the story and get all the information and assets required to publish it
  • Maximise all the opportunities for the story by finding new hooks, data, or case studies

To find out how PR and media relations could help your brand, please get in touch at louise@energypr.co.uk.

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