Pitching to the Media
PR is often viewed as an unknown beast banished to the “too hard” basket. Here are a few pro tips to help you nail your next pitch.
PR tips on how to secure media coverage
Written by Mums & Co Accelerate Member Angela Thompson
The business world has a love/hate relationship with PR.
See your business name in print and geez, what a buzz.
Even better when the coverage converts to something more tangible, like a booking or spike in followers. But PR is often viewed as an unknown beast banished to the “too hard” basket.
Media relations is a specialised field and if your business has the opportunity to work with a PR professional, then great news – it’s worth the investment. But if your business does not have the budget yet for specialist services, here are a few tips to get your media pitch noticed.
1. What’s the angle?
Journalists literally receive hundreds of emails each day from businesses asking for promotion. It’s important to remember that PR is not free advertising. It’s about tapping into editorial opportunities, which are few-and-far between these days with Australia’s small media pool and as more publications move to pay-to-play, such as advertorials or sponsored content. So why should they pick your story idea? Is it topical, relevant and interesting?
2. What’s new?
A newsworthy and timely pitch has a better chance of pick up. Leverage opportunities to promote new activities in your business, like product launches or new executive team members. Create a PR calendar of seasonal events you could pitch, for example, Mother’s Day or summer holidays. Don’t leave your run too late – start pitching two weeks to a month out, even longer for print magazines, to ensure you don’t miss editorial deadlines.
3. Headline is key
You know what they say about first impressions. In a sea of emails, what’s your hook? I previously managed a newswire service where I had access to a large amount of press release data. Headlines that tell it like it is perform better than cryptic ones, however clever or cute they may sound. Sum up your pitch in one clear and direct sentence.
4. Know the format
A press release has a specific format - the inverted pyramid. The first paragraph is the “who, what, where, why, how”. You might like to include a quote from a spokesperson within your business but make sure it has purpose. Think of it being used as a sound bite in a news broadcast – is it interesting to listen to and does it add value? Include background information about your campaign or business at the end of your release.
5. Choose your words wisely
Media prefer concise, punchy and direct. Steer clear of flowery language or wafty content – they don’t have time to sift through your creative writing to get to your point. They’re also notoriously harsh critics, so check your work for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
6. Tailor your pitch
It’s quicker to create a blanket email and hit send to your media contacts list, however, a tailored pitch will likely receive more pick-up. Have a good understanding of the publication’s content. Does your story align? Have they covered a similar topic recently? Do your research into their upcoming features and which editor is the best fit for your pitch.
7. Follow-up with caution
Oh the terror of making follow-up calls as a junior PR. Granted, a busy journalist can be intimidating. Most media prefer to be contacted via email these days but if you want to call, make sure you have a good reason. Not: "I'm calling to see if you received my press release". More like: “We’re hosting an event next week and I’m calling to see if you can join us.” Make sure you check they're not on deadline first and stick to the point.
A single pitch or press release isn’t a silver bullet that will change your business overnight. Media relations is, however, an incredibly powerful tool to include in your marketing mix.
Hopefully these tricks of the trade will help get you started and make PR feel less overwhelming.
About the Author
Angela Thompson is a PR and event specialist. With a career that has bridged marketing, sales, PR and editorial, she offers a holistic approach to developing integrated communications strategies. Seed PR and Marketing supports small businesses to demystify and simplify the marketing process, providing efficient and effective tools to grow a brand profile and drive sales.
You can get in touch with Angela via the Mums & Co Member Directory.