As any baseball player will tell you, there’s an art to pitching. Learning to throw at just the right speed and curve takes practice, patience, and perseverance. The same principles apply to the classic media relations tactic that PR Practitioners lovingly refer to as media pitching. Whether you’re standing on the mound ready to strike, or dialing into the news desk with the perfect story, you have to be prepared. So here’s a simple list that will help you put your best foot forward on your next call.
Be Informed – The easiest way to get pick-up on a story is by calling or emailing the right person about the right topic, at the right outlet. Do your research ahead of time.
- Who at your target outlets writes stories about the topic you’re pitching?
- If you can’t find the information you’re looking for call the assignment desk and ask them which reporter would be best to contact with your story
Once you’ve found the right reporter, get to know their interests by reading past stories they’ve written, see how long they’ve been at that publication, where were they before, etc. Reporters will appreciate the fact that you took the time to do your homework.
Be Attentive – It’s important when pitching a story to be attentive to the reporter’s needs.
- Always be available via email or phone to answer questions about your story
- Respond right away even if you don’t have an answer yet
- Just a quick “We’re working on that for you and should have an answer by the end of the day,” lets them know what’s going on so they don’t have to stress, or seek their answer from a competitor.
- Ask them every relevant question you can think of while you have them on the phone so you don’t have to keep calling back
- When is your deadline?
- Would you like pictures to go with that story?
- Can I set up an interview for you with my prepared and willing spokesperson?
- When’s the best time to follow up with you on this?
- Do you prefer I call or send you an email?
Be Creative – Reporters, and everyone else in the world, can tell when you’re reading from a script. So get crafty with your pitch by throwing in a curve ball like asking them how their day is going or comment on a recent story they’ve written before launching into your pitch.
Be Distinctive –Media receive hundreds of emails every day, so before picking up the phone or hitting send, think about what makes your story unique.
Once you have this down, just take a moment to make sure your talking points are in the right order. Grasping the reporter’s attention in the first few moments is critical; otherwise, you might lose their interest.
To catch their attention right off the bat (no pun intended), try front-loading all the best, quick-hitting, juicy facts, then offer up an interview with your spokesperson for them to get more details.