How to Pitch the Media

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By Dan Capawana, Media Relations Specialist, R&J Public Relations

Your client has exciting news that they want to get out, and it’s your job to get them the coverage that they’re looking for.  Whether it’s a new consumer product they are launching, a grand opening or just a big announcement, you need to find the correct reporters who will be eager to share the information.  This can be an intimidating task for public relations professionals, as members of the media can be notoriously difficult to get a hold of.  But if you do your research and follow these guidelines, you can build a solid list of media contacts that you can work with for a long time.

1.  Make sure you do your homework.  For starters, you’re going to need to build your media list, adding the appropriate media that would be the best fit for your client.  Once you have built this list, it is equally as important to find the correct contact that you should be speaking with at each publication.  If you are pitching a health story, then you need to contact their health editor, not their fashion editor or wine columnist.  Read some of their previous articles, look at the trends in the industry and adjust your outreach accordingly.

2. Be familiar with who you are pitching.  You want to be very knowledgeable about the outlet that you are pitching.  Be able to explain to them why your client will be a good fit for them, and why their readers/ viewers would want to learn more. It is also advantageous to know what that journalist has covered recently, and what they may be covering down the road through editorial calendars.  If you’ve never seen their magazine or newspaper before, go pick it up and give it a read.

3. Try to get them on the phone.  Reporters get hundreds upon hundreds of emails a day, many of which surely go unnoticed.  If you try to get them on the phone you may catch them at just the right time, but make sure you’re not catching them at the wrong time. Be mindful of editors who are on deadlines, if you’re calling a different time zone or if a TV station is on set.

4. Always follow up.  Stories can fall through the cracks.  You may have sent out a pitch that a reporter really took interest in, and then just took a back seat to other things they were working on.  Members of the media have so much going on, it is your job to follow up with them and make sure they have everything they need, will cover your story and craft it in a way the works for your client.

5. Maintain relationships with the media.  The most important item to take away from all of this is building relationships.  A journalist is much more likely to answer a call or email from someone they have spoken to- especially someone who has given him or her the respect he or she deserves by only pitching good, relevant content, than a complete stranger.  Friendly conversation can also go a long way.  Ask people how they are doing, find out their interests, take them out to lunch; all the little things that can build trust and make you someone that they will want to work with now and in the future.

So the next time your client needs the media on your side, follow these guidelines and your pitching will be more effective.  Media coverage is a valuable method of gaining a great amount of credible exposure in a short amount of time, so if you can get their attention, and keep their attention, you’ll be well on your way.

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