If you want to work in public relations, you have to know how to pitch a story idea to a reporter. This checklist will help you craft a pitch that will get picked up by the media.
Make a Media List
Identify your target outlets and contacts – ones that cover the topic you’re pitching. Reporters generally talk with each other, and good PR people are identified and seen as a useful tool. Much like Thomas the Tank Engine, be a useful tool.
Know Who to Pitch
Generally, editors (for print and digital) and producers (for broadcast) are the people you want to pitch. The two caveats to this are if you have a personal relationship with the reporter, or if you’re pitching something that you know the reporter feels strongly about. Larger outlets will have multiple editors and producers segmented by category, don’t pitch a beauty product to a reporter who covers real estate. They may both work for the same outlet, but it doesn’t mean they’ll do your job for you and make sure your story gets to the right person.
Be Realistic & Relevant
Only pitch newsworthy items that are relevant to both the outlet and the particular editor or producers you’re pitching. I can’t stress this enough. If you pitch a lot of junk or promotional things, your emails will stop being read completely. The more relevant newsworthy stories you pitch that get picked up, the more you’ll be seen as a useful resource to the journalist.
Always try to find a local angle for local outlets. Tell them why they should cover it, why it’s interesting and why their audience would want to read it or see it on TV. Remember, they get hundreds of pitches and story ideas a day, from both PR people and the general public. Make yours stand out. Images and infographics are great – don’t hold them back, send all the information you want them to have up front.
Keep It Short
A press release should rarely be more than one page. A pitch should rarely be more than 100 words. Keeping in mind that you just learned that journalists get hundreds of pitches a day, and that it’s easier to hit the delete button than it is to run with the story, you have to grab their attention and not yammer on.
If you have a good story idea and follow these five simple rules, you have a shot at getting your story picked up and a happy client.