First off, there may not be a universally agreed-upon set of “10 commandments” for media pitching but there are certain principles and best practices that many professionals follow.
If you don’t know about them, don’t worry, in this blog, we will explore the top 10 media pitching tips (call them 10 commandments) to help you maximize the impact of your story pitches.
So without further ado, let’s talk about them…
1. Know Your Audience
Understanding the target audience of a media outlet is foundational for effective media pitching.
As Seth Godin aptly puts it, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
In the context of media pitching, this translates to tailoring your story to align with the interests and demographics of the audience that a particular outlet serves.
For instance, if you are pitching a health-related story, consider the readership of the chosen media outlet.
If it’s a health and wellness magazine, emphasize the lifestyle benefits of your story. If it’s a news outlet, highlight the broader societal impact.
Knowing your audience allows you to speak their language and increase the likelihood of your pitch resonating.
2. Craft a Compelling Story
Stories are the heartbeat of media.
To capture journalists’ attention, your pitch should tell a compelling story.
As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This sentiment applies directly to media pitching – evoke emotions and create a memorable experience.
Consider a pitch for a tech startup. Instead of listing features, narrate the journey of the founders, the challenges they overcame, and the impact their product will have on users’ lives.
A compelling story not only engages journalists but also provides them with a ready-made narrative to present to their audience.
3. Personalize Your Pitch
The importance of personalization cannot be overstated.
Journalists receive a myriad of pitches daily, and a generic one-size-fits-all approach often ends up in the digital trash bin. Take the time to understand the journalist’s beat, style, and recent work.
As Dale Carnegie wisely noted, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Replace “name” with “interests” in the context of media pitching.
Consider this example: If a journalist frequently covers sustainability issues, tailor your pitch to highlight the environmental impact or sustainable practices of your story.
This personalized touch demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and increases the likelihood of your pitch standing out.
4. Build Relationships
Building relationships with journalists is an ongoing process, not a one-time transaction.
Erik Qualman’s words resonate greatly here: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
In media pitching, adaptability and responsiveness are key to cultivating lasting relationships.
Connect with journalists on social media, engage with their content, and attend industry events. Building rapport before pitching increases your chances of being recognized and trusted.
Journalists are more likely to open an email from someone they have interacted with positively in the past.
5. Provide Value
Your pitch should answer the fundamental question: “Why should anyone care?”
Providing value is about making your story relevant and meaningful to the audience of the media outlet.
As Gary Vaynerchuk asserts, “The best marketing strategy ever: CARE.”
Consider a pitch for a new educational app. Instead of just listing its features, emphasize how the app addresses a specific gap in current educational methods or how it positively impacts students’ learning outcomes.
Demonstrating the value your story brings ensures that journalists see its significance and are more likely to cover it.
6. Be Concise
When there’s an information overload, brevity is not just appreciated, it’s essential.
Mark Twain’s famous quote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” highlights the challenge of concise communication.
Apply this principle to media pitching – convey your message clearly and succinctly.
Imagine a journalist scrolling through a crowded inbox. A concise pitch with a compelling subject line is more likely to capture attention.
Use bullet points, avoid jargon, and get straight to the point.
Journalists appreciate pitches that respect their time and make the decision-making process easier.
7. Timeliness is Key
News is called news for a reason – it’s new.
As Malcolm X aptly stated, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
In media pitching, this means aligning your story with current events and trends. A timely pitch has a sense of urgency that can make it more appealing to journalists.
For instance, if your pitch relates to a broader societal trend, such as a new consumer behavior during a pandemic, explicitly link it to the current context.
Demonstrating the relevance and timeliness of your story increases its chances of being picked up.
8. Respect Deadlines
Respecting journalists’ deadlines is not just professional courtesy, it’s a necessity.
As Douglas Adams humorously noted, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
However, missed deadlines are not amusing in the media world.
If a journalist requests additional information or an interview by a certain date, ensure you meet that deadline.
Punctuality builds trust and reliability, qualities that are invaluable in media relations. Being prompt and responsive can also result in your story being prioritized over others.
9. Provide Supporting Materials
Supporting materials enhance the completeness of your pitch.
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Including high-quality images, relevant statistics, or a well-crafted press release can significantly bolster your pitch.
Consider a pitch for a product launch. Attach professional photographs or infographics that visually represent the product.
This not only makes the journalist’s job easier but also adds depth to your pitch.
Remember that journalists are looking for comprehensive stories that can be easily shared with their audience.
10. Follow Up Professionally
Following up is an art that requires finesse.
As Zig Ziglar wisely stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
This principle applies to following up on media pitches. A well-timed and professionally crafted follow-up email can make the difference between being overlooked and securing coverage.
For example, if you haven’t received a response within a reasonable timeframe, send a polite follow-up email.
Express your continued interest and offer any additional information that might address questions or concerns the journalist may have.
Avoid being pushy but remain persistent and respectful.
So these are the 10 commandments of media pitching for building successful relationships with journalists and increasing the likelihood of your story being covered.
Whether it’s understanding your audience, crafting compelling stories, or building lasting relationships, each commandment provides an easy-to-follow media pitching strategy.