The Art of Pitching
Pitching your story to the media is important whether you are a PR firm, a medical/political/financial or other expert or a company trying to get your story into the news. Remember, stories are always about people. You have to grab a journalist’s attention quickly — that could be Twitter, Instagram, a coffee meeting etc… Usually, for TV news pitches, journalists have to be able to pitch your story in the morning or afternoon meetings so planning is key. You are most likely to get your story published or on-air if you can find a character (a person affected/impacted) to weave the story. Here are 7 tips to pitch your story effectively to the media.
1. PRINT – print a hard copy of your press release on a standard letter size paper and add our organization’s letterhead with date, contact info, address, phone, email, website and social media.
2.URGENCY – if you want to encourage a quick response, add “For Immediate Release” under the date. You can explain the timeliness of your piece — perhaps it is “national xxxx day” or it’s election season etc…
3. CONTACT – add the name of an individual person, their title, phone number and email in addition to a generic business contact
4. CONTENT – your content should be clear, concise and accurate. Your press release should be informative, important and interesting. The first sentence should be able to stand alone as a summary to the story and include the “5W’s and H” quickly (who, what, when, where, why and how).
5. STYLE – if you are not sure how to write or what to write, list all the facts in order of importance and then write your story as if you were speaking to another person. Keep your writing simple, short and punchy. It is best to use one thought per sentence. Use the active voice (who did what). And remember, stories are about people for people. Don’t populate your press release with too many statistics but use key data to explain the bigger picture.
6. BRAND – don’t assume the news organization knows your organization. State what you are, what you do, and where you are based. Identify people in your organization, where they are located, and how quickly people are available for interviews. You will usually want someone from an organization (“official”) and someone impacted as well (“character) who can weave the story through emotion. There is a difference between a marketing pitch and a news story pitch.
7. FACTS – triple check your facts, spelling, grammar and content. Besides a hard copy mailing, you can also use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIN to get your story out there. Your press release should be 2 paragraphs, at most and less than one page.
8. PRESS KITS – while there is no ideal formula for a press kit, a box of goodies can often do the trick to grab someone’s attention but it has to go with your brand. Product companies will usually offer a few samples along with some branded content to a newsroom along with the press release. But ultimately, the story and pitch has to be news worthy, relevant and timely.