Pitching a story? Here are Four Things to Remember.
#1 — You’ll need to sell it
In order to attract the attention of busy reporters, your pitch needs to be cogent, timely and relevant. It’s important to provide the context for your pitch as well as the details – why this matters, whom it impacts, and how and what it might mean for the future. It’s best to start with the most compelling information first and keep the note short. Validate your viewpoint by incorporating compelling data or financial information including relevant facts, statistics, photos, quotes, and video links. (Attachments, unless unavoidable, are generally not advisable because they can delay an email or derail it.) And don’t forget to pay attention to your subject line! Too often, emails go unopened because subject lines are innocuous or seem spammy. Consider using the reporter’s first name in the subject line, and summarize the crux of the pitch in a few catchy words. Proofread your pitch before hitting send.
#2 — Make sure it’s newsworthy
If you’re making an announcement about a new feature or service, a fundraise, an acquisition, or something else that’s timely, it qualifies as news and reporters covering your space will probably pay attention. If, however, you are pitching something softer and more of a feature, it will be up to you to add elements that make the story compelling. A good way to do this is by tying your pitch into the greater news agenda or by broadening the focus to say something smart about the market, the nation, the world. Look for a timely, relevant angle and do your best to relate to it in some way. You can always use proprietary data to add a timely hook and tell a bigger story about the company, product or service. Does your announcement coincide with a national holiday or industry event? Bottom line, do your best to add relevance and timeliness to encourage coverage.
#3 — Target the right reporters
Make sure you’re pitching the right outlets, read by the audiences you want to reach. If it’s consumers you’re after, you’ll want to focus on the product, its features, how much it costs and where to get it. If it’s purely B2B, you’ll want to make sure to include trades, blogger-influencers, as well as beat reporters at larger outlets. If you want to bring the company to the attention of investors, you’ll want to focus on the company founder, its management, monies raised as well as the product and/or service, using data when possible to set it apart. Make sure to review coverage to date to capture the names of reporters who have written on the subject, and, at the same time, look at which reporters are covering your competitors. Ask your colleagues for any friendlies they can introduce you to. While platforms like Cision, Muck Rack, or Meltwater can help flesh out your list and find email addresses, but they should not be your sole resource. It’s critical to do your own research in order to ensure that you’re pitching the right folks.
In addition to reporters, producers, and contributors, you should also consider building a list of influencers – as noted above – including analysts, bloggers, authors, social media, commentators – anyone who can impact your client’s reputation and help tell their story.
And while an outlet’s size often matters, sometimes a small niche outlet can be more influential than a larger one if you know it reaches your target.
#4 — Follow up!
Whether you know the person or not, the expectation is that you will follow up on your initial outreach somehow – via email, phone or text. How you do this may depend upon your relationship with the reporter and whether or not you should assume that no response equals no interest or that the volume of pitches is so overwhelming that the reporter never saw the pitch and could benefit from a reminder. Be respectful of how each individual works and recognize that trade reporters who cover your industry may have different expectations regarding frequency, and feedback than mainstream business writers who will likely be more interested in the bigger picture than the ins and outs of your business. But it’s always a good idea to give reporters time to respond before hitting them again.
Here’s a story we placed in tech outlet TechCrunch for our client Locomation that took almost six months to come to fruition.
The value of a PR agency
A PR agency like Rally Point can help you get the attention of reporters. Let us know if you’d like more information on how to tell your story and we will be in touch!