How to ‘pitch’ your idea to a journalist
If you want to raise the profile of your business, you need to get media coverage. That means engaging a PR agency – one that’s well aligned with your values and industry – or dipping your toe into the world of media relations, by doing it yourself.
If you’re considering the latter, how do you even make a start with contacting journalists?
When you look at how many relevant contacts are out there – within your specialism or your region – it might be tempting to send out a generic ‘batch and blast’ email; but it’s important to remember that every journalist has different audiences and styles of writing.
Building relationships with each of these people is key to achieving high quality coverage.
Therefore, a tailored approach is much more likely to hit the nail on the head.
1. Pick a couple of journalists to focus on
Tailoring a ‘pitch’ is time-consuming, so it’s important to home in on a couple of contacts at a time, so that you have time to do your research on each one.
2. Get to know the journalists
In order to write a well-targeted pitch, you need to ‘get to know’ the journalists.
Here are a few tips:
- Follow them on Twitter and share their content. You can even set notifications, to be alerted when they share something new.
- Look at the content they’ve recently written to see if you can offer up a fresh angle on their topics
- Work out if they have any regular pieces/columns to fill and how often they write. If they’re an online writer, they will usually have a profile.
Our advice would be to keep a record of your notes, so that you can come back to your findings at a later date, if required.
3. Brainstorm relevant topics
Now it’s time to think about how you can help them. Remember it’s their job to get people to read their content; to inform, engage, educate, create debate and so on.
In line with what you now know about them, and the kinds of things they write about; what expert advice/commentary can you provide which will help them to do that?
Come up with some potential hooks for feature articles. Are there any recent research findings which they need to be writing about? Are there any upcoming National Days they should know about?
Your job is to make their life easy; and to help them ‘sell’ this story to their editor – who will decide whether the story is worthwhile.
Now you’re armed with an idea, you can ‘pitch’ it to the journalist.
The first thing they’ll see is the subject line – so keep it short (no more than 10-15 words), and then summarize your pitch.
In the email, keep it succinct and remember; they are busy, so they’ll judge your email within the first couple of sentences. Don’t waste that prime space by talking about yourself – hook them in; then tell them your idea ASAP. Later in the email, you can explain who you are.
If the pitch is focused, relevant and timely, the journalist may reply straight away. If not, don’t worry, they may have filed your email for later reference (e.g. when they’re working on something relevant), or they might have all the intentions of replying to you when they get chance.
Good luck – and let us know if you need any support!