Getting noticed: how to pitch media stories to the right people in the right way
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
When making a PR pitch to journalists, consider paraphrasing the famous words of JF Kennedy: it’s not about what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.
In other words, it is not their job to make your organisation look good; it is your job to make them look good. Remember, most journalists will have to justify to their editor why they are covering a particular story and how it delivers value to their audience. So, you need to provide them with an interesting angle on a new or existing topic, original and credible statistics and research, access to respected thought leaders with genuinely insightful opinions, or unique and relevant case studies which enhance a wider understanding of the topic. Tie these in with subject matter they specialise in or are already covering and, bingo, you have a good chance of getting noticed.
When you consider that (according to Cision’s State of the Media 2021) more than a quarter of journalists receive over 100 PR pitches per week, it is little wonder that very few ever get read. The vast majority are irrelevant and poorly-targeted and will end up in the virtual rubbish bin, without ever being opened.
A Class-A business-to-business (B2B) media pitch takes time, skill and effort to produce. Good PR counsel will be able to advise on how to target the right journalists with the right stories. By the same token, they will steer you away from sending out releases which, although they may feel important to you, will simply fall on deaf ears in the competitive world of B2B PR pitching. There are other places to publish these stories, like your owned media channels such as your website.
Here is some guidance on how to get noticed and how to best understand what your PR agency is working to achieve.
Research and relationships
It is essential to pitch to the right people. It is all too easy to blanket bomb generic publication email addresses in the hope that someone somewhere will decide that publishing a story about your latest product launch is in their interests. They won’t. All pitches need to be aimed specifically at those who cover your precise subject matter. Good PR consultants will have personal relationships, and a positive track record in delivering well-aimed pitches, so will have a better chance of getting noticed.
It will also help if your ongoing communications programme is targeting your top tier contacts with relationship-building initiatives like invitations to events and one-to-one meetings.
First impressions count
Before even opening an email, the first thing a prospective journalist or editorial contact will see is the subject line. State your hook, say something unique, credible and concise. Make them hungry or curious: hungry for more information or curious about how your pitch will enhance their knowledge. The best pitches tend to cover original data or provide evidence which fill in information gaps which are of personal professional interest to the writer. Remember that a journalist or editor’s first responsibility is to deliver value to their readers or viewers; make it clear at the outset that your pitch delivers exactly that.
If a journalist or reporter has opened your pitch email, you have won half the battle.
The pitch itself
- The lead: an enticing hook that shows why your story is newsworthy and deserves media coverage.
- Call-to-action: this is where you specify exactly what it is you want the reporter to do with your proposal: this could be to run an interview, write a review or integrate your data into their existing coverage.
- Value proposition: here you explain how your pitch adds value to what the journalist is already covering and why they should be interested in what you have shared. This could be the opportunity for them to access unique data, interview usually unattainable sources or examples of interesting or unusual industry cases.
- Relevance: for Tier One media (major newspapers, magazines and news networks) you must be able to connect to people’s everyday lives, ideally reflecting the current news cycle and/or macro business or consumer themes. For industry media, your pitch needs to be relevant to emerging industry trends and be precisely targeted to the reporter’s target audience.
- Evidence: always ensure that your pitch is supported with evidence. Use data, references and examples wherever you make a claim. So, if you claim that your solution saves x amount of time, money, energy, resource, be sure to quantify that with exactly how much.
- Brevity: keep your pitches concise at under 200 words. Also, use bullet points – around four are ideal – and keep links to one to avoid being caught in spam filters.
- Soundbites: stick to simple language (avoiding buzz words and industry jargon) but always make sure there are carefully-crafted phrases which will make great soundbites or quotes.
Creating a successful media pitch is a practiced skill; there is no exact secret formula. But pitching to the right people in the right way will give you the best chance of getting noticed. Knowing how best to approach the process will help you to work effectively with your PR consultancy for the optimum results.
If you look at the outcomes of some of Admiral’s most recent media ‘wins’ for our client ABB in one of their target publications for example, you can see the evidence of well-constructed stories: Energy Security & Process Automation.
To find out more please contact [email protected].