From reject to response: 5 frank tips from real journalists for a great pitch
The leading reason PR folks and journalists just don’t jive? Bad pitches.
Countless articles lament this fact. So what makes a great pitch, exactly? Here’s a round up from our favorite media contacts at BAM Communications.
Tip: Research your journalist extensively, NOT just your publication
“If your release targets a publication you're already a step ahead of the spammy competition, but publications have many writers so go a step further and take five minutes to work out which is the most suitable journalist for that particular release (Google the publication + your company/known rivals for past work). Many journalists don't pass on irrelevant pitches so getting both publication and journalist right is crucial to standing out."
-Gordon Kelly, Technology writer for Forbes
Tip: Tie it to news NOW
"Make the pitch as current as possible, especially when pitching to a news outlet or a specific news show. Whether it is a product, new app or a study, try and relate the pitch to some current event or trend. This would require one to pay attention to what is going on in the news and what topics specific newscasts are covering. ewscasts tend to focus on the same topic for a few days (or weeks) but do different angles. If you pitch a different angle to a hot topic, you’ll likely have a higher chance of getting a response and a placement."
-Ashley Papa, Fox Business producer
Tip: Review the editorial page before badgering me
"A good pitch is a good pitch. If it’s something I think our readers will be interested in, I’ll make sure it gets in the right hands. That said, I really appreciate it when the person pitching sends a product or story that fits my section and interests. Our editorial page details the editors for each section, so it’s pretty clear who’s done their research."
-Jenny McGrath, Home Editor at Digital Trends
Tip: Put the WHOLE story on a silver platter
"I am more inclined to pursue a pitch when the publicist has done a lot of the work for me. That's lazy, I know…but it gets my attention when it's evident that the publicist has researched the subject, found supporting evidence and has included sources that aren't necessarily just restricted to his or her client.
For example, if I'm pitched something on a new health trend - pasta made of lentils, let's say - and the publicist is wanting to get her lentil-based pasta-making client in a feature, she's got a much better shot if she tells me about other brands who are doing this and includes tips about why it's a trend right now, what it says about collective pasta-eating habits etc. Basically - the publicist needs to think like a journalist."
-Kavita Daswani, Contributor to LA Times, South China Morning Post, Conde Nast Traveller and JustLuxe.com
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for the better contact and tell me the pertinent details
"As for pitches that always get my attention, I look for ideas that fall specifically within my beat and will be relevant to my audience. If your pitch is slightly outside either area, put yourself in my editor's shoes and think about what it would take for me to convince him/her to write a story where the benefit isn't immediately obvious. Knowing the editorial vision of my publication is just as important as knowing me, my interests, and what I cover.
Also, for some more general tips:
- Always know a reporter's beat before pitching. If you don't know, I'd encourage you to ask. And if your pitch is not appropriate for a reporter, ask if it's better suited to a colleague. I'd avoid, however, then telling that colleague your original contact "recommended" you contact him/her. Doing so implies an endorsement that may not exist.
- That same goes for understanding a reporter's audience. Know who they are and adjust your pitch accordingly. CNET, for example, is all consumer so I don't consider ideas that are enterprise-focused.
- If you're announcing a new product, include as much information about pricing, specs and availability as you can in the release. Also, make photos readily available either as as attachments or include a link where they're available for download. If you do direct reporters to a media website to download photos, it's best not to require them to register or create an account.
- If your name is on a press release, don't be on vacation when it goes out. I've actually encountered that. ;)
-Kent German, Editor at CNET
Have any other tips to add? Let us know in the comments.
Beck Bamberger is an entrepreneur and the founder of BAM Communications, a media relations firm focused on start-ups, enterprise innovation, and founders creating mind blowing advancements for the world. She a contributor to Inc, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post and more.
Photo: Baseball pitcher via Shutterstock