September 2, 2022 |

8 minutes

The biggest difficulties and most frequent mistakes in media pitching

Getting a story published can be a game-changer. It takes time to master selling your story to an outlet or journalists. You might have the best story in the world, but if your pitch doesn’t make an impact this won't matter. This guide explains the biggest difficulties and most frequent mistakes in pitching to the press.

What is media pitching?

Media pitching refers to presenting your news to a journalist to get it featured in their publication for marketing. This summary, known as a pitch, is the key to unlocking free exposure. A pitch is a short personalized email to a journalist, outlining your story that gives reasons why the outlet in question should cover the story.

Most frequent mistakes in media pitching

1. Targeting the wrong audience

The starts with selecting the right publicists and press for your story. The angle of your pitch must match the journalist’s perspective, so being aware of the journalistic landscape is vital. Getting this right takes research.

2. Giving too much information

Watch out that you don’t make the mistake of overwhelming your audience with too much information. You want to be interesting and informative. Remember, you're not trying to sell or promote a product (that’s advertising’s job) and you don’t want to be generic (this won’t get you noticed either). You need be engaging with a to-the-point news story.

3. Not being flexible

You must think critically about your intended target audience and be ready to problem solve and answer questions. Flexibility is key and you should always have a plan B. Even if it’s a different spin on your story. Make sure to have more than one idea to pitch. Your story can be sculpted in multiple ways if it’s flexible. Try different pitches until you succeed, just don’t spam the same journalists.

4. Not standing out

Journalists receive between one and five pitches per day, with highly coveted blogs and well-known publications receiving considerably more. Your pitches need to stand out from the crowd.

Media pitching can be very difficult. Getting a journalist or outlet to pick up your story takes perseverance. It is important not to get discouraged when journalists don’t respond.

Difficulties in pitching

The key indicator of a media pitch is in its name, it’s a pitch - an introduction. A pitch is not the full story, it is not a press release just yet.

1. Submitting the full story

A common PR mistake is to think you need to share the entire story. This makes your pitch too lengthy. Although emails with a great deal of information are a show of your expertise, you want to stay focused on creating personality and keeping attention on your news highlights. A short pitch will direct your focus. It is important to keep your pitch meaningful. A loss of focus will result in the journalist rejecting your story or archiving it.

Don’t sell your full story. Keep it short and focused when you pitch.

2. Promoting instead of pitching

Remember, you're not trying to sell or promote a product (that’s for advertising and marketing) and you don’t want to be generic. You want to be interesting, media pitching is about building a story and enticing the readers. Make sure the angle you're taking is captivating and that it compels the journalist to find out more.

The story you’re pitching should contribute to the industry in some way. There should be a value-adding benefit to it. For example, an opinion piece from an industry expert is a nice story to share, sharing industry insights. Telling the market about a product’s features is not news, it’s advertising.

Remember you’re not trying to advertise a service or product. You want to be insightful and informative with your story.

3. Not researching the journalist

You didn’t tailor your pitch to the journalist’s style. Before reaching out to a journalist, be sure to research their work and make sure your pitch appeals to them personally. Reading their last few articles will give you a feel of their target audience and the niche.

Make sure the journalist and your pitch share some similarities. This will create personal appeal.

4. Lack of appeal

Your pitch isn’t captivating. This comes down to your subject line, be sure to stay on-topic and have a strong subject line with your introduction. You could always follow the “question, promise, exclusivity” approach when pitching. This is a general sequence to make your pitch more appealing and have the journalist contact you for more.

Captivate the journalist. Use the subject line and introduction to make an impact.

5. Poor timing

Lead times are crucial, you don’t want to target your pitch last minute. Preparation and a solid strategy will benefit you greatly, much more than a pitch that’s just thrown together on short notice. Make sure to look at publication schedules and submission deadlines, if the news site has one.

Always have a timeline in place. You don’t want to pitch last minute.

6. Too much jargon

Don’t make it difficult for journalists to read your pitch. Write as you will for the general public, easy to explain and conversational. Too much industry lingo will rather make you sound pretentious than win you a publication from a marketing channel. Keep the jargon relevant to where it’s beneficial and don’t have it dominate the pitch.

Keep it conversational, but still professional. Only use jargon where absolutely necessary.

7. Too little or too many follow-ups

You do not want to crowd the journalist’s inbox. The best is to send a reminder a few days after the email, asking for feedback. A general rule is to not message them more than three times. If you do not get a response, it likely means it isn’t the time for your story. If you were published, remember to thank the journalist and maintain a healthy relationship with them.

The golden rule is to not message more than three times after pitching. Maintain a healthy relationship with the journalist and don’t crowd their inbox.

Conclusion

Good media pitches don't require a groundbreaking news story to get picked up by the journalist. Getting your pitch noticed requires research, trial and error, and determination. It’s about getting the right story in front of the right journalist at the right time. By avoiding common pitching mistakes you can enhance your effectiveness and increase the chances of being published and boosting your brand awareness. It takes more than just reaching out to a news outlet with a single, unpracticed pitch to earn news coverage. You need to be sure you’re practising the best methods for pitching and for connecting with media.

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