Have you got a story to share but struggle with media pitching? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about successful PR pitching. Along with the ultimate guide to media pitching, we’ll share some successful examples to help you get started.
Media pitching in the PR world refers to presenting your story to a journalist to get it featured in their publication. A pitch is usually a short personalized email to a journalist outlining the story and why it should be published.
PR professionals will usually pitch on behalf of a client to reporters, editors, journalists, bloggers, and sometimes influencers.
If your story is given prominence or coverage, more attention will be paid to it. If targeted well, you will succeed in engaging new stakeholders. A successful media pitch will help you spread the word about your story, but landing it won't be easy as the battle for attention is fierce.
Now we know what it is, we will look at how to do it.
Let's start at the beginning. You have to own your story and understand the current news landscape. Only then can you formulate a winning pitch.
A good starting point is to read news stories affecting your industry. This way, you can get a feel of the content being published. You’ll likely notice that most stories are exciting, relevant, and engaging. Nobody wants to read an uninteresting story.
While nobody wants to read just about statistics, they can add credibility to your story. The key is to take the data and give it some zest. Make sure your statistics add value. Data speaks for itself, so don’t try to overdo it. Data should never be forced for the sake of data. It should provide unique insight. Judge if your pitch really needs it.
As mentioned, the purpose of your pitch is to convince journalists to feature your story or content. No journalist will want to feature you if your pitch isn’t newsworthy or grounded in the relevant context.
Relevance ensures that your audience’s interests are catered to. You need to keep tabs on what’s being reported in your industry. You won’t have any authority if you aren’t discussing industry trends or addressing your audience's pain points.
When researching, start compiling media lists of news sites and journalists you want to reach out to. Specifically, study the type of content featured on their blogs and feeds. Try to identify the topics and discussions they like to report about.
Make sure that you’re knowledgeable. This is incredibly beneficial when starting to build a network of journalists. Get the support you need to gather tips on hot trends from conferences and networking events and maintain good relationships with your peers. They may know something you don’t.
Research your competitors. Look at what they publish and determine if it works for them. You’ll also be able to identify your USP that will differentiate your story from theirs if you know what your competitors are talking about.
Research is needed to make your pitch relevant, interesting, and newsworthy. Taking the extra time to research the content and the market space will make it more compelling and more likely to get picked up. Be sure to include any unique details that could capture a journalist's eye.
Now you’ve done your research, you can start crafting your story. Keep in mind that pitching is not just writing a story. There’s a structure to it.
Most of the time, your pitch will take the format of an email. Therefore, the first thing journalists will see when they open their inbox is your subject line. Making this subject line enticing is an art itself. Try and keep it informative and avoid buzzwords.
Consider the following strong examples of subject titles:
This is where you follow on from your subject line. The most effective way to write the body of your pitch is to divide it into the following:
First, you want to provide the scenario, the context, and the bigger picture, including why you're reaching out to them. Your aim is to set up the story so that you can present your business as a solution to the wider problem. This is a very important step as it makes your pitch a value-add rather than a sales pitch.
After presenting the story's context, it’s time to present the topic that your pitch addresses. You can enhance the credibility if you back it up with research. Use valid sources from research and top-tier publications to give your pitch as much authority as possible. Journalists love good data, so use it if you can.
This is where you address the problem. Give an example of an interesting solution to a relevant problem that a wider audience can relate to and want to know more about. Offer an exclusive interview, additional comments, or insights from key individuals. Always keep it short, and don’t include attachments.
This is where you let the reader know what to do to learn more. Provide your direct contact details and give a sense of urgency to get a faster response.
There are certain elements journalists look for when scanning over your pitch. Here is a handful of some of these to help you get your news covered:
Generally, the more people involved in a story or impacted by the news, the more newsworthy it will be.
Current news has more impact. With no shortage of fresh news, the media landscape quickly loses interest. The short news lifecycle is short-lived, so you must schedule your stories appropriately.
The familiarity of the person, place, or event makes for a stronger news angle than someone or something no one has heard of.
The location of the event will affect the impact on your audience. People care more about things that are happening near them.
Something unusual, shocking, and out of the ordinary makes a story worth covering.
Not all of these elements will apply. The nature of your business and the industry’s perspective will influence the angles of your pitch. In the B2B spectrum, proximity, prominence, and timeliness are most commonly used.
Some other questions to ask yourself:
If it fails to tick these boxes, then don’t pitch it. It’ll give a negative impression of you and could also negatively impact you when you do have something newsworthy.
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It is certainly worth pitching when you expand into new regions. You want your presence in other markets to be known to all audiences.
A change in leadership or a new important figure joining your company is worth mentioning. Investors like to know what’s happening with management.
Use this to tell the market what’s coming and how this will benefit the industry!
Diversifying your portfolio? You want that covered!
Awards recognize your hard work and indicate that you’re one of the top companies in your field.
Research the journalists most likely to be interested in running your story. Read what they have covered previously and use it to help you understand if your story will appeal to them.
Here are some tools you can use to find the journalists that are right for you.
Google alerts monitor search results for a given query. By getting emails whenever a specific query shows up, you can track media coverage of a particular topic and take note of the journalist who wrote about the topic. To set up Google Alerts, go to google.com/alerts, and type in the query you want to monitor. You can customize what you receive and how often you receive it.
With Meltwater, you can contact journalists in certain industries. Its main selling point is media coverage monitoring, which allows you to see media mentions and can inspire you to pitch stories. Reporter contact info is also given so you can make a database of contacts.
PRHive is a new and collaborative alternative to some of the others on the list. As well as a database of media contacts it also comes with an AI-enabled function that can help to create press releases and come up with ideas for thought leadership content.
This is another platform that can help connect you with journalists and bloggers. It’s free and works by filtering requests from journalists for quotes and other information on Twitter, making it easy to find the journalists writing about subjects relevant to your story. If you have a particular publication in mind, go through their website and find the journalist writing about the topics your story is relevant to.
SourceBottle is an easy-to-use platform that offers the unique opportunity to get you or your client a case study feature. You can provide multiple clients with media exposure. Journalists can find you using the platform's advanced search function, so you're never far away from their fingertips. SourceBottle can help get you mentioned in relevant publications, saving you time by not contacting the publications yourself.
While not a cheap option Muck Rack is ideal for PR services due to its capabilities of reaching journalists and influencers. Its keyword alert function lets you create alerts for relevant keywords. You also get a list of journalists, their areas of expertise, and contact info. Careful use of this data and some well-timed pitches can lead to productive media relationships.
You can post or answer questions to get a backlink. The insights received can be collated and turned into an article to promote a business. Insights and opinions gathered are from various businesses, and you can pick and choose who to include. There is a free and paid subscription.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and is a platform that connects journalists with relevant expert sources. This helps journalists and allows you and your brand to share your story and get expert opinions.
They provide a list of PR resources categorized and approved by website owners if they meet certain quality criteria. They cover tech and crypto news and have a section showcasing the most viral stories of the moment. You can even customize your own Alltop feed with the most relevant stories for you.
Buzzumo offers PR outreach opportunities through its database of 50,000 journalists. It also has the bonus of connecting you to influencers, and for $299 a month, you can reach both and track industry trends.
Onclusive is another firm with up-to-date media contacts and press releases. You'll benefit from over 100,000 contacts and easy tracking of your activities. It offers real-time measurement of your communications impact, key issues, media trends, and a press release building and monitoring feature.
Do you know the name of the journalist but don’t have their contact details? Norbert is a lead generation tool that can find corporate email addresses when the emails aren’t on their site. It can drive pitch conversion relatively cheaply or for free, depending on the package you select. Feeding it bulk lists to save time is possible, and it integrates with websites like LinkedIn.
NinjaOutreach has an extensive database of industry-specific journalists and is fairly easy to use. It is especially useful for influencer outreach for small businesses. The CRM tool allows people to manage relationships, segment their contacts, see and analyze data, and send customized emails.
JustReachOut can help you find journalists and create pitches using AI. It can hunt opportunities for you on external platforms like Haro and SourceBottle. It is cheap to use and offers the direct contact info of journalists, with the added feature of seeing the responsiveness of each journalist to your pitches. The platform has built-in learning options to guide you. It offers search tools and shows you the pitch templates most likely to grab a journalist's attention. It also allows you to find someone looking for an expert in your field.
Using professional PR services will help get the job done quicker and save you a lot of time and frustration. Your PR agent should be able to find the most important and relevant publications. You also run a higher success rate of actually getting published.
Once you’ve done the above steps and your pitch is in the hands of a relevant party:
In media pitching, the emphasis is on quality over quantity. With this in mind, be sure to personalize your email. Do not send any pitch to an ‘info@’ email address. Address your pitch directly to the most relevant person. Explain why you are reaching out to them. It could be because of the field they write about or even a specific story they have published previously.
Remember, even if a journalist doesn’t pick up this story, you are still working on a long-term relationship, and they might reach out to you or pick up on a story in the future if you proactively approach them.
It’s important to make sure that your pitch is personalized and exclusive. You’d want to disclose information to journalists one at a time. If you send your story out to multiple people and they all show interest, you may have to turn people down, which can jeopardize future relationships.
It is important to decide how you want to sound. Do you want to be strictly professional or use slang in your pitch? You may want to make it humorous. You will need to customize it to suit your audience.
To recap, keeping tabs on industry trends, collecting data, reviewing competitors, and deciding on your angle is important. Make your pitch newsworthy, offer a subject line to draw the reader in, personalize it, and use the basic media pitch structure (context, problem, solution, contact instructions). Over time, compile media lists of journalists and other useful contacts.
Media pitching can be hard to master and takes time to get right. The tricky part is tailoring it to your specific audience and getting it in front of them at the right time. Getting the right contact and making it relevant to them is important. Self-promotion is also one of the key mistakes and difficulties in getting right when pitching.
Here are some examples of structuring a successful media pitch, broken down into individual parts
This is a pitch for one of our clients Veylinx that was successfully picked up.
Tagline: Behavioral science upending traditional market research; Veylinx closes $2M in pre-Series A round. (notice how the first sentence gives away part of the story but also generates some interest).
Personalization: This is Ross again, from Veylinx, the first and only behavioral insights platform to predict consumer purchase behavior. I wanted to share this news because I thought it might be of interest to you. (In this case, we had already established a rapport with the journalist, but here, you could also say it is of interest because you recently read an article by them that was relevant to this story).
Context: Traditional market research methods suffer from hypothetical bias — what people claim they will do is different from what they will do.
Problem: The gap of intention between what people say they will buy and reality can be as big as 595%. Businesses rely on this information to make major decisions, such as launching new products (here, data has been used to back up this claim).
Solution: Veylinx announces it has raised $2 million in a pre-Series A investment, backed by several prominent VCs, and is setting out to expand its unique technology that measures the real wants and needs of consumers in Europe and the US.
The innovative methodology ensures businesses obtain unbiased consumer insights with their skin-in-the-game approach - consumers have to put their own money on the line. In this pitch, we also provided a quote from an investor in Veylinx and offered to put the journalist in touch with the relevant CEOs if they want further information.
Here is another example of a successful pitch to a top-tier publication for a client, Recruitee. This is an example of how you can still pitch a story even when you might not have any news going on.
Personalization: My name is Emma, and I'm in charge of the communication department at Recruitee. I just finished reading both your article on 8 startups hiring in Amsterdam as well as Shubham's article on Booking seeking funding.
Context: The fact is, depending on your industry, you are either hiring or laying people off. That's why I believe I have a story that could be interesting to the readers of Silicon Canals, as it deals with how startups/scaleups can continue effective hiring with a tight budget.
Problem: While fear of illness keeps most of the world indoors, it is the underlying nightmare for the economy that keeps us up at night. In the US alone, 37% of companies are considering layoffs. Even if some companies decide not to cut back, it's highly likely that budgets will be re-evaluated. With budget cuts imminent, some external programs commonly used by companies will have to be brought in-house.
One luxury that a company may not be able to afford any longer, is the use of a recruiter. The average cost of a recruiter carries a heavy price tag of 20 to 35% of the candidate's first-year salary. However, if a company is not ready to do the hiring themselves, it may actually be more costly and not nearly as effective.
Solution: Companies looking to cope with limited hiring allocations are turning to social media to attract talent, utilizing employee referrals, and investing in technology to help with the hiring process. The aim is to still provide a pleasant hiring experience for applicants, while also ensuring that talent is found. Finding the right tools to aid hiring can minimize some of the top hiring mistakes companies make.
We also ended this pitch by offering to put the journalist in touch with a senior member of Recruitee. This is how you leverage their expertise to offer further insights into this story you’ve identified.
If you have a captivating subject line, and a powerful introduction, and you set the context, you’re already on track for a great pitch. Remember to make your pitch exclusively addressed to the journalist in question, and don’t give away the full story.
Pitching isn’t always successful, so don’t be offended if someone isn’t interested. Most of the time, you’ll pitch to multiple journalists before your story gets picked up. In the meantime, continue working to make it attractive and newsworthy, updating it with new relevant research that you may find. By constantly researching and adjusting your angle, you will find success. Over time journalists will see the news and stories you share, and your authority will grow as they realize your insights into an industry.