10 Tips to Journo pitching success
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
This has been written by our writer, Lee - who has been pitching articles for commission to editors for over 10 years. When you see it from a journalist perspective the similarities with PR are immense - while the journalist pitches a story of interest, it's for PR to pitch a story that communicates the businesses key messaging.
The secret is in the story, regardless of the message you want to convey or the promotion you want to achieve. If you really want to get coverage it - you have to work for it, which is why it is called "earned media".
So - let's delve into the Ten Tips and see our analysis at the end.
If you’ve got a great idea for a story but don’t know how to get it published, below are our top ten tips for pitching articles.
1 Find the right place
Locate the best home for your piece based on its content, tone, style and political bias. Search for similar stories and note the organisation, then choose the best fit.
2 Find the right person
Once you’ve found the right publication, it’s time to get the email of the correct editor. You can search Twitter where many editors will list their email. Or, if you have a name and know the organisation’s email structure (i.e. firstname.lastname.publication.com) you can work it out for yourself. Alternatively give the organisation a call and ask. Often the direct route is the quickest.
3 Create a first impression
It’s now time to craft your pitch. Begin with a short snappy email title that hints at the subject and will also capture an editor’s attention. Getting your email opened is half the battle won.
4 Write a killer opening
Your first line needs to be as interesting, if not more so, than the email title. Often it could be the headline for the piece itself. It needs to sum up the subject in a single sentence that makes the reader instantly feel this is something they must read.
5 Craft a professional body
The body of the pitch should be clear, concise and well-written while summarising all the reasons why this is a must-read piece. Try to keep it under 250 words as editors are VERY busy people. Make sure the spelling, punctuation and grammar are perfect as mistakes are the first thing editors will notice – it’s their job.
6 Include personal info
Keep it very short – one small paragraph at the bottom – but include details about what you do and where you’ve been published before. Include one or two links to your most relevant and/or impressive work. Why are you in a unique position to write this piece?
7 Find an angle
Completely new stories are like gold – of huge value but very hard to find. If, as is more likely, you’re writing about something already out there, make sure you have an interesting and unique angle which IS new and, more importantly, which fits the ethos and style of the publication.
8 Try, try but don’t try again
If you don’t receive a response, give a polite nudge a few days later but leave it at that. An editor’s default setting is not to respond to pitches they’re not interested in. If, after one nudge, they haven’t responded you can be sure they’re not interested – don’t get stalkery.
9 Don’t give up
If your first pitch is unsuccessful, try another publication, then another etc etc. If you don’t get anywhere with that idea then try a new one. Editors have good memories. If you’ve written a professional and interesting pitch before, they’ll be likely to open your next email with a keen eye.
Another trait editors value – perseverance.
10 And by the way
Avoid sending pitches on Monday mornings or, if it’s a news piece, during busy news periods. It’s one way of ensuring your email gets lost in an over-stacked or overlooked inbox.
You may think that getting coverage is by sending out a press release, well that's just part of the puzzle - and tbf, that's a pretty lazy approach. Above all, you need to tap into the interests of the journalist and the publication if you are to get your email opened - and that means a killer subject line - and the more relevant and personalised, the greater success.
At Haynes MarComs, we don't just work for clients - we also work for PR agencies (believe it or not!) to get that hard to reach coverage. We're tenacious, we don't give up, just in the last year alone we have;
Secured a profile piece in Financial Times, The Economist, CEO Today, City AM among others for one client
Quadrupled coverage in core targets 'each' month for a travel business
Placed the same opinion article in 7 publications, plus 3 interviews for an ai client
Secured 6 trade interviews in one month for an invested startup
How do we have to do this for clients with a specific agenda?
Before we undertake any media engagement on behalf of a client we start by clarifying the aims and objectives and result expectations.
From here we look at the business position and proposition to have a clear view through a media audit, who are the competitors or key talkers in this field.
We understand the announcements that the client would like to make and the messages to be communicated - this will result in a key messaging ladder and press kit.
We work with the client to create strong newsworthy press releases and create a plan of action that includes press release distribution, media engagement, social media engagement, industry events; this is usually the first month (although we maybe able to do this faster)
Then, we help create the content; we need to ensure we get the real story that will capture the interest of journalists for their readers
The next steps is sending press releases and following up, this is staggered every two weeks minimum and a maximum of six weeks - if the news is not consistent interest can be lost.
We push the story out to all key contacts in your target buyer audience and work to achieve coverage, finding other ways to tell the story. We do this by;
collaborating with potential partners who share the message
presenting industry data and stats (infographics work well)
responding to current affairs and news (newsjacking/rapid response)
PR is a long-term investment that connects with your business key milestones, celebrating client acquisitions, new partnerships, client success stories, trends and data, business developments, key personnel appointments, company expansion and much more. But be prepared to go the extra mile to build relationships with journalists by providing them with the content they need.
Let us help you toward PR Media coverage success firstname.lastname@example.org