7 Ways to Pitch Today’s Media Outlets
Media Pitching Best Practices for a Crowded Marketplace
Given the drastic changes newsrooms have faced during the pandemic, it’s clear that the ways in which public relations and other communications professionals previously reached out to media must be revamped. To sum up our previous blog on the topic, journalists are understaffed and feeling a great deal of stress to meet deadlines more than ever before. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of methods for breaking through the noise when it comes to securing media coverage about your organization’s products, services and achievements.
1. Share contributed content. A top way to make a journalist’s job easier is by having a piece of content already developed that they can quickly review and publish. When it comes to offering a piece of contributed content, also referred to as a ‘bylined article,’ it’s important to first be aware of the guidelines a media outlet has by asking yourself the following:
- Does this outlet even accept bylined articles?
- Is there a word limit?
- Am I allowed to reference my organization in the piece, or should it be non-promotional?
- Will this piece fit the media outlet’s key topics?
- Has the outlet recently published a similar piece of thought leadership?
- Who is the best subject matter expert to attribute this article to?
Contributed content guidelines can often be found on a media outlet’s website or in its media kit. Understanding all these answers will help when drafting a piece of contributed content and avoid additional hold ups when pitching an article.
2. Offer Q&A opportunities. On a related note, you may want to consider offering up written Q&A responses if a journalist has limited time to prepare for an interview. Rather than relying on a journalist to schedule an interview, take notes, edit those notes after the call and develop a piece, ask if he or she would like to email questions for your spokesperson to respond to via email instead. This saves time on the journalist’s end, and allows you to adequately prepare your messaging in the form of well-crafted responses. Check out websites like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) or Qwoted for journalist inquiries that you can offer relevant client spokespeople for as well.
3. Make data easily accessible. Journalists receive at least 30 new pitches on average from PR professionals every day. Understandably, it can be exhausting for them to read through each pitch and determine if the story is worth writing about. Using data from a recent report or survey can be an effective hook, especially if the data presents a new side of a story or shares insight on a new topic. To make the information stand out, finetune the data to tell a clear narrative using bullet points or highlight key statistics in bold within your email.
4. Confirm a journalist’s beat. With the abundance of newsroom layoffs during the last 18 months, journalists have often had to change their beat, or topics of interest. In 2019, a journalist may have covered local news updates, but has since transitioned to the rise of e-commerce, for example. To ensure a journalist is still covering a topic you’re interested in pitching, research their recent stories. You can find this information either on a media outlet’s website, by Googling them, or by using platforms like Cision or Muckrack.
5. Pitch at unconventional hours. Fewer employees in a newsroom means journalists often must work longer hours or have disrupted schedules. Rather than the traditional 10am-2pm pitching window, consider sending a pitch outside those times to journalists who haven’t responded to you before. Muckrack found 64% journalists like to receive pitches between 5am-12pm, so next time you’re sending pitches, get them out ASAP. On the contrary, this means 36% of journalists enjoy receiving pitches outside of this window – if you’re not hearing back from some, consider alternate times to send your pitch.
6. Create your own B-roll. Newsrooms have suffered job cuts across all types of roles, including videographers. To make up for the lack of newsrooms, consider hiring an experienced, freelance videographer to capture b-roll to accompany the story you’re pitching. This may make a story more appealing, as a journalist will have materials available to quickly get the story out to their audience and won’t have to plan out how to capture footage themselves.
7. Take a breather before following up. As mentioned above, and in our previous blog, journalists and newsrooms are under a great deal of stress. There’s too much pressing news that must be shared, and not enough professional journalists to share that news lately. That being said, be sure to approach communication with a journalist with a sense of understanding and patience. For example, rather than sending follow ups several times a week after a first pitch, consider waiting a week if you can afford to. Journalists will likely appreciate not being bombarded by your outreach and may be more inclined to respond when they’ve had time to digest your pitch.
Securing a Steady Stream of Media Coverage
While these suggestions aren’t a guarantee to secure media coverage for your brand, they are good options that can bring you closer to a successful outcome when conducting media pitching. It’s important to try a few different ways of reaching out to ultimately find what works best for your organization. Regularly reaching out to journalists with interesting and relevant news can help your company win placements in local, trade and national media – and ultimately keep you top of mind among customers and prospects.
If you need help connecting with journalists in today’s competitive news cycle, connect with us to build your outreach strategy and public relations plan today!
Brianna Fitzpatrick is an Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She has an excitement for media relations and crafting key messages for thought leaders.