How to Pitch Journalists?

Can you pitch the press successfully? Does it always require an agent or an agency? What are the secrets successful entrepreneurs (and successful PR people) know? Pitching the press may be easier than you think. Here are a few golden rules:

Dos:

  • Offer fresh news, features and insights;
  • Take time to get to know the editor you pitch, their beat, what they are interested in and the types of sources they look for. Remember: the only way to get journalists’ attention is to HELP them: notice what journalist covers – the story has to be useful for them, so pay attention to what they needs. If you don’t know what it is, don’t hesitate to ask and help them get it, as fast as you can;
  • Pitch a journalist personally;
  • Let them know that they have the possibility of an exclusive. Ask them if they could quickly review it: it’s fine if they are  not too keen on it or don’t reply within a couple of hours, it just means you can then offer it to the next publication in your list;
  • Keep relationships solid but don’t be overly pushy about receiving coverage;
  • Make the story lean and impactful;
  • Keep it simple and short: nail your pitch in the opening paragraph. It is ideal, when it consists of no more than about 150 words, accompanied by a link to the company/product…
  • … but on the other hand explain the basic concept behind the product without making too many assumptions about the editor’s knowledge – the journalist may not be as familiar with your particular subject area as you are;
  • Convey enough information;

When should you send your press release?


  • Don’t send duplicates;
  • The subject line of your email pitch should spell out what the news is;
  • Use bullet points. If you have a ton of info, just lay it out simply;
  • Go straight to the facts, avoid hyperbole, buzzwords and rambling – just tell the journalist why your story is different to the competition;
  • Give a deadline;
  • If you don’t receive a response, follow up maybe a week or so after. Don’t do it too quick. There’s no hard rule about when or how often you should follow up, but it’s probably safe to assume that if you haven’t heard back within a few hours of sending out your pitch, you probably won’t be getting coverage. It just didn’t catch the eye;
  • Ask for feedback on why they are not interested.

Check here how an online newsroom can help you with media relations


Don’ts: pet peeves that makes media not covering your story

  • It’s about something that’s really dry and it’s simply boring;
  • It consists mostly of buzzwords, buzz phrases that journalists are tired of. Words like: ‘revolutionary’, ‘disruptive’ are overused. They have lost all meaning and just make journalists switch off. Every time you want to use it, think twice about that quote attributed to Fred M. Hechinger, a former New York Times editor: “I narrow-mindedly outlawed the word ‘unique’. Practically every press release contains it. Practically nothing ever is.”
  • It obscures the actual news in a long introduction stretching to connect the company to news that’s more exciting;
  • It has absolutely nothing to do with journalists’ interest or clearly is just a blast;
  • The body of information contains a wall of text;
  • It’s not on topic or it has not enough details;
  • Your story lacks context: why did you choose that specific journalist, why now, why this matters today?;
  • It takes too long to get to the point;
  • It’s untargeted and not germane to what journalist covers;
  • It’s generic — you have clearly sent this email to hundretd of other writers;
  • There’s an offer of a ‘talking head’ who has nothing to do with the news itself;
  • Your pitch is an unsolicited phone call (getting a call unexpectedly can be very disturbing);
  • You make a journalist feel like they would be doing you a service. Don’t try to control the narrative and be gentle with asking them to change their opinion, or to omit an accurate negative they included in a largely positive story. You just get the whole package;
  • You are not the only one person from your company that emails journalist about an event or thing. The worse thing is when they get emails from different people, even after having already responded to one;
  • You attach to big folders of stuff. Think about Dropbox or Wetransfer or a tool like Prowly – ideal to distribute press releases and to pitch media;
  • You pitch a journalist who already politely answered that your client is just not right for them;

If you are sending a video pitch, remember about one hard rule: say “NO” to vertical videos ;)

If you are sending a traditional press release, check out these examples:

press release examples

Golden Drum: Is Content More Important Than Technology?

Golden Drum: Is Content More Important Than Technology?

Technology is there to serve the body and not to confuse the brain or take its role. Content will become more and more important in terms of what it actually represents – thinks Dushan Drakalski, Creative and Film Director.