When You’re Pitching To “The Media”

At least once a week – maybe more often – I’ll have a prospect or client say to me:  “I can’t understand why the media won’t run a story on my…” Well, there may be a number of reasons. Here are 5:

1) What you’re pitching to them really isn’t news. The news media isn’t in business to provide you with “free advertising.” Particularly in these tough times, media outlets are looking for more – not less – advertising revenue. Your pitch needs to be “newsworthy” or it simply won’t be run.

2) You’re pitching to the wrong outlet – or wrong individual. Today email news releases services are prolific and they can be great to get your message out quickly, inexpensively and broadly. It’s the “broadly” that can create problems. The less “tuned in” your message is to a particular media outlet, the less likely it is to be “picked up.”

3) You don’t know how to pitch. Whether crafting a news release, sending a quick email pitch or simply picking up the phone to contact a journalist, your focus needs to be on their needs, not yours. It’s no different than when creating advertising messages – or any communication messages for that matter. WIIFM? – What’s in it for them?

4) You’re too pushy or demanding. Pitching means “suggesting” a story, not “requesting” or “demanding” one. Subtle, but very important distinction. Being too pushy also involves attempting to exercise too much “editorial control.” Don’t say: “here’s what I’d like you to say/include.” Don’t ask to: “review what you plan to use before it’s run.”

5) Your timing is off. Sometimes while you may have a great idea, it’s just not the right time. Maybe because some other “bigger news” makes your information less timely or relevant. Maybe because another similar piece was recently run.

The bottom line – news coverage doesn’t just happen because you send out a news release. To pitch effectively you need to:

  • Identify specific media outlets with audiences who need/want to know what you have to say.
  • Target specific editors whose job it is to “cover your beat.”
  • Focus on “newsworthiness” not self-promotion.
  • Make the editor’s job easy by being accessible, forthcoming and “on target.”
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