By: Natalie Batten
Throughout public relations courses, media pitching is an elephant in the room. I know it exists as I hear the term tossed around, but I didn’t truly know what it was or how to do it successfully until I was out of the classroom.
To make sure we are on the same page, media pitching is essentially contacting a media outlet (news, tv, radio, etc.) about a story that you want them to share. In public relations we will often reach out to the media and pitch stories to communicate an organization’s values and purpose.
Knowing what media pitching is isn’t enough. It’s important to know how to do it successfully.
First, it is important to do your research. If research freaks you out, take some deep breaths, this is nothing too hard. Just look up the media outlet and their employees that you want to pitch your story to. Make sure that you’re reaching out to the right person to avoid pitching a political story to someone who covers sports. It is also useful to gather stories the media person has written in the past, and find stories that are similar to the one you’re pitching. By relating the pitch to stories they have covered, this will spark more interest.
How to pitch
Next, it’s time to actually write the pitch. Identify in the pitch why the story is newsworthy and why the reporter and the public should care. If you can’t think of any reasons, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. You should also have a strong understanding of the topic you are pitching and be prepared to answer questions about it.
At one of our recent PRSSA chapter meetings, our president discussed good pitching practices and CM Life representatives spoke about what the media likes to see from people pitching stories. Here are some of their top do’s & don’ts:
Provide photos for a story
Direct a reporter to the best person to answer a question - even if it’s not you
Pay attention to the news and pitch relevant stories
Personalize your pitches to the reporter and media outlet
Ask a reporter what they would like in a release and how you can help
Send pitches too close to the deadline
Leave out essential information
Send generic pitches
Suggest how the story should be written or reported
Keep sending your story to the same outlet after someone has already declined
Pitching is not going to go away and it’s significance will continue to increase. It’s important to begin practicing now to become familiar with proper pitching etiquette. Happy pitching!