If you’ve read our previous post, you’ll understand why you need a press release drafted before pitching (and read this one on how to structure a press release). It’s now time to pitch it to a journalist, so, thoroughly preparing yourself beforehand can make a two-minute phone call a breeze. Here’s three top tips for best practice…
1. Plan what you’re going to say:
Find a timely hook, especially if there’s a specific event happening, it’s your chance to establish the relevance of the story. It’s no use pitching it if it isn’t newsworthy to the journalist or their readers.
And prepare yourself for setbacks. A journalist might not want the angle you’re going for, so have a Plan B pitch (and C and D) to deliver.
2. Decide where you’re pitching to:
Big doesn’t always mean better. Don’t always aim for the big leagues, think about where your story will have the biggest impact as that might be on a local level. In which case, find a niche angle for a specific local outlet.
3. Find who you’re pitching to:
Find the right journalist to publish your story – they usually write about specific subjects so research their area. It’s a waste of their, and your, time if they simply don’t have any interest in running the story. Take a peek at their social media to see how active they are and what they talk about; get an idea of what type of person they are to further gauge whether they’re the right person to speak to.
You’re all set! Now, follow our checklist to boost your chances of securing coverage:
You’re ready to pick up the phone…
- Open with an introduction: who you are and what you want them to know
- Ask: “Have you got five minutes to go through a story?”
- Grab their attention by bringing in impressive stats and crucial information
- Refer to the local area and explain benefits for them – find out a specific patch you can mention, so they know you’ve done your research (journalists like that!)
- Explain the timely relevance for the readers
- Mention you’ve got a press release and photos available – they need to know it will be straightforward for them. Mention the word count too – they may want you to reduce that!
- Confirm their email address and give a time when you can send everything to them (usually immediately!). Remind them they can contact you if they need any more info.
Follow up a couple of days after to find out the status of your pitch. Track your results: make a note of who was/wasn’t interested, who replied and who you need to call again. You won’t always get results, but practise makes perfect. The more you do it, the more results you’ll see.