It’s not always easy to make yourself heard in today’s media landscape. Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day, and it can often be hard to break through the noise.
But don’t worry – it can be done.
Below, Jennifer Madigan, Senior Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs, shares her tips on how to craft the perfect pitch. Check it out!
1. Do your research
While you don’t have to be an expert on the subject or story, doing some quick background research can help you better understand what you’re pitching, and allow you to be able to answer quick questions from journalists on the fly without having to go back and look for the answer. Researching also allows you the opportunity to check for trends in the news, and how you could potentially tie your story in.
Is your pitch timely? Understand what you’re up against in terms of the day’s headlines, and adjust accordingly. If a major news event is happening, reconsider the timing of your pitch.
Finally, understand who you’re pitching to as well. The needs of a TV reporter are quite different than those of a print reporter. Plus, it’s good to know the types of stories a publication or journalist typically produces to ensure your pitch is a good fit.
2. Phone in AND email your pitch
While a phone pitch is ideal, it can often be difficult to reach journalists on their own private line. If you do have a phone number on hand, send along your pitch in an initial email, wait 10 minutes, and then make the call. That way, the journalist will have the email available when you touch base.
3. Customize your email pitch
Customizing your pitch is essential. Journalists can easily spot a generic email or email blast, which is likely going to be ignored, filed away, or deleted. You want your email to stand out, and something as simple as putting the journalist’s first name in the pitch can stop and make them take notice.
When it comes to the subject line, think about what’s going to grab the journalist’s attention. The challenge is making the subject heading short, informative and captivating – you only have a few words to make them take notice, so make them count!
4. Help the journalist write the story
It’s important to help the journalist see what you’re pitching as a story. If you simply write a generic email about an event, product or person, you’re forcing the journalist to come up with the entire story on their own, and they don’t have time for that – especially these days. Anticipate the needs of the journalist, and be ready with additional elements they might ask for.
You also need to help them envision the story. Shape it for them. For example, mention an article they previously wrote on a similar subject, and how this new story can tie in to that. If your story is timely and trending in the news, tell them why they should write about it, and who they can follow up with and speak to.
5. Don’t forget the hook
Every story – and every pitch – needs a good hook, something that makes the reader stand up and take notice. It helps if you provide that in your pitch, so the journalist doesn’t have to find it. Always be ready to answer the question, so what?
About Jennifer Madigan
A seasoned journalist who has worked in the news industry for nearly 15 years, Jennifer is the former executive producer of The West Block with Tom Clark, and filed reports for Global News from Ukraine and Afghanistan. She spent many years reporting local and national news, including reporting on the war in Afghanistan from Kandahar. Moreover, Jennifer possesses an in-depth understanding of both the media and the government landscapes.