Top do’s and don’ts of pitching media:
Do – Read, listen to or watch the media outlets you’re looking to get into so you understand what kind of stories they cover and how they cover them. Do they do live interviews? Do they use prepared/press release copy? Do they use video footage or photos? Get to know the media outlets you want to be in and supply them the things they need. Make it easier for them to cover your story than the 100 other pitches they get each week. Reporters want to know you’re familiar with their work and their outlet and having this familiarity will help you prepare and pitch your story more efficiently.
Do — Make yourself available and keep appointments. If you get a reporter interested in your story, be flexible about when you can do the interview. Many reporters are working on five or six stories at the same time. If they’re only available to interview you between noon and 2:30 on Thursday, make yourself free then or they may just move on to another story. Once you have the interview booked, make sure you’re there in person or you’re there by the phone at the appointed time.
Do — Pay attention to what else is going on in your market or industry when you make your announcements or pitch your story. This will help you find times that are better to pitch than others. If you’re a technology company and you’re planning a major press announcement, don’t do it on the same day Apple is supposed to announce the next iPhone — every tech reporter in the world will be focused on that story, not yours. If you’re pitching a story about your company’s donation to a local charity, don’t do it on the day your city or state is having elections — all your local news resources will be focused on that story.
Do — Become a resource for reporters in your industry. Every story can’t be about you, but you can position yourself and your company as an expert resource to talk about trends in your industry. By helping reporters out with these larger trend pieces with comments, insight and expertise, those reporters will be more willing to cover your big story when the time comes.
Don’t – Hound reporters. Many people think calling and emailing reporters over and over will get them to cover your story. But being too aggressive can actually repel reporters. Know that reporters spend at least a few minutes with every pitch they get and if they’re interested, they will call you for more information. A quick follow up call a few days after you send your pitch can help, but calling day after day on the same story will just make the reporter angry. Be an ongoing resource for reporters in your space, but don’t call over and over on the same story.
Don’t — Invest in flashy press kits. Most reporters don’t have time to wade through thick, complex press kits with photos, big brochures, multiple pages, etc. to figure out what the news in there is. A simple email with a good pitch, a press release and images illustrating the products or services you’re pitching will be sufficient. If your item requires some kind of hand-on experience, follow up with a call to see if the reporter would like an in-person demo.
Let the PR tips above strengthen your pitching efforts and help you land the media attention you want.