How to get a journalist to read your pitch

If you’re looking to secure media coverage for your business, it’s a good idea to come up with some initial ‘industry hooks’ which will form the starting point of feature pitches for target publications. These ideas could be based around themes you know a journalist is specifically on the look-out for or more proactive topics that you’ve identified as relevant to a particular contact or title.

But keeping in mind that many journalists receive up to 100 pitches per day, it’s important to make sure that your pitch stands out from the crowd – or risk wasting your time on ideas destined only for the deleted items folder.

So, here are five simple steps to help your pitch get noticed…

1. Do your research

Before pitching any content to a journalist, it’s important that you’ve read the title in question, as well as taking the time to understand which audience the publication is targeting. This will help to ensure that your ideas align with the subject matter and would be of interest to its readers. It’s no good suggesting an advice-led blog if the platform doesn’t feature this type of content, and it will be a sure sign that you haven’t done your research!

2. Always try to email

Journalists are very busy people, usually working to tight deadlines. So, like many of us, they often prefer that companies email them their ideas rather than spending 10 minutes explaining these over the phone. If they don’t respond, the majority of the time this means they have seen your pitch and are not interested — so it’s not a good idea to subsequently bombard them with follow-up messages and calls.

On the other hand, if your pitch is time-sensitive you must act fast if the article is to remain relevant and newsworthy. In this case, phoning may be the best thing to do – for both you and the journalist. A good tip is to always check if they are free to talk at that particular moment. If they aren’t, make sure you ask when is a good time to call back. Remember to keep the call short and sweet, giving them only the key information.

3. Be precise

You don’t need to give tonnes of background information on your business – get straight to the point about what exactly it is you are pitching. More importantly, consider exactly why they should publish your piece. Think about where your article would sit in the publication and be sure to give them specifics, not vague ideas that will leave the journalist guessing what the news hook actually is.

4. Get to the point

The subject line of your email is the first thing your recipient will see and will ultimately determine whether the journalist chooses to open it or not. Spell out exactly what the news angle is in plain English – don’t try to be clever with your language as this will only leave them unsure, and more likely to ignore your pitch.

5. Personalise your pitch

Your email should always include the name of the person you’re pitching to, the title of the publication, and the feature or page you want to contribute to. If you send a generic email without any personalisation, the journalist might assume that it has been issued to the masses — and will likely dismiss your ideas on this basis.

As mentioned, journalists don’t have a huge amount of time on their hands, so make sure your pitch is carefully crafted and to the point. If there is a particular publication you really want to get your articles featured in, make sure you read it frequently to give your pitch the best chance of hitting the right criteria and securing that coveted spot you’ve been hoping for.

Finally, it is a good idea to try and meet with journalists in person, if you can. Not only does this help build relationships, but it enables you to find out first-hand exactly what it is they are looking for.

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Written by Hayley Paterson