You have a great story or perhaps an idea for one so how do you get the media interested? Maybe it’s suggesting a briefing or an angle for a compelling, visionary thought leadership piece? Whatever it may be, the way you craft and present your pitch can make all the difference between getting the response you want or a complete wall of silence.
It’s important to do your groundwork before pitching. Firstly, consider who to pitch to? Make sure you’re approaching a title that does what you’re offering by checking their website and, if they have one, editorial policy. Titles work in all different ways, accepting stories in different formats. For example, not all media accept by-liners. Or a briefing offer with a manager won’t cut it if you’re approaching a title read by CEO and senior leaders.
Who is their audience? Is your story relevant to their readers? If not, it’s unlikely to spark interest. Look at the different columns and sections – where could you see your story appearing and reference this when you pitch so you show that you’ve taken the time to understand the title.
Also, check they haven’t already covered the topic before and if they have, you may need to think of a new angle.
Once you’ve established the title/s you want to approach, think about your angle. How is your story different to the rest? What’s unique about it and how is it relevant to the reader? Ensure it offers some sort of takeaway that the audience can benefit from and a call to action that will encourage readers to contact you for more or read other pieces you’ve written. Think about any accompanying collateral you could offer with it – pictures, infographics, video etc – that will really bring the story to life and help to stand out on the page.
Then consider your approach – will you offer an exclusive or is it part of a series of interviews or comment pieces? Timing is critical. Is there any major national news that’s related to your story that’s expected to break soon that you could piggyback off to make your story even more relevant? If so, it might be worth holding it back until this time.
Ensure your headline is attention grabbing and in the style of the title page. Follow this with a punchy and to the point introduction that sets the scene, saying why the story is relevant to the reader. Reporters get hundreds of pitches a day so it’s important to get your story across in the header and within the first few lines, in a way that encourages them to read on. Overall the pitch shouldn’t be any more than two (three max) paragraphs long with a clear outline on the key points of the story – bullet points often work well.
Finally, check the availability of the author or spokesperson behind the story. The last thing you want is to secure an opportunity only to find no one is around to fulfil your promise to the press.