Did you know by 2031, journalist and reporter jobs are projected to decline by 9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? Today, public relations professionals outnumber journalists by a 6-to-1 ratio, and this difference will increase as jobs in the media industry continue to decline.
Earning media coverage has always required a standout story angle, expertise and persistence, but as newsrooms shrink and more companies seek coverage, those looking to gain valuable earned media coverage will need to bring their “A” game to get their story in front of priority audiences, build brand awareness, drive online traffic and more.
Dig deeper into media pitching, including how to craft an effective pitch and tips for getting your story noticed by a journalist or reporter, below.
Tip #1: Find the Angle & Craft the Right Story
When developing a media pitch, it is important to tell a well-rounded story, not just present an idea with partial information. Stories can be born from a variety of opportunities and themes that connect to relevant observances, regional news and national stories. Finding the right story angle for your company and matching it to the right reporter and media outlet is key to getting noticed.
Once you have identified the story angle, looking for opportunities to build the human connection is key. Adding real, relevant stories and voices from the community, such as company leadership, industry influencers, thought leaders or clients can show your story is compelling, interesting or unique. Human connections and community voices are impactful and can lead to an increase in interest from journalists.
As you are developing your story, finding community voices and identifying the reporters and journalists who would be interested, also consider any visuals that could go along with your pitch and be sure you provide to the media outlet.
Ultimately, reporters are focused on serving their readers. Building connections with media personnel is about creating content that is relevant to them and their audiences. If you can make this connection within your story, you are more likely to earn media attention.
Tip #2: Incorporate Data
It can be easy to make a statement or share an opinion without backing it up with real numbers and data. Adding factual evidence to your pitch can help your story stand out from others and establish your organization as a credible resource for future stories or interviews.
Sometimes research is necessary to find specific data that aligns with your story and backs up your claims, but other times the factual evidence is right at your fingertips in pieces such as annual reports, customer data and more. Whether you have information readily accessible or need to do a bit of homework, finding ways to build data into your next media pitch is worth the time invested.
Tip #3: Connect Your Media Contacts to Relevant Interview Sources
Journalists and reporters appreciate when those offering a story idea deliver a complete package that highlights who, what and why the story is relevant and would align within their publication and audience. By providing something the reporter needs, they will be more likely to notice and consider your media pitch. If you have access to a sought-after source, say so in the subject line. The right interview sources can be invaluable and can come from across your internal and external audiences. Reporters always prefer to cite on-the-record sources within their publications to support their storyline. If you can introduce them to a relevant source, you will make one of the hardest parts of their job much easier (and they will thank you for it)!
When connecting your media contacts to relevant interview sources, it is important to ensure the interviewees have participated in media training and have talking points to reference. Interview sources should be comfortable speaking on the proposed topic, have turning statements for questions they are not ready or allowed to answer and understand proper media etiquette.
Tip #4: Develop a Customized Media List
When crafting a media pitch, it is important to think about which media outlets you will send your story to. Are you targeting print publications, TV outlets, radio and podcast hosts or another source? Will your story be pitched on a local, regional or national level? All these factors will affect the customized media list that you develop.
After you determine the types of publications (e.g., print, TV, etc.) and specific areas (e.g., York County, the state of Pennsylvania or beyond), you’ll begin to develop a customized media list that includes the publication’s name, the reporter you want to pitch, and their contact information.
General newsroom contact information is often posted to media outlets’ websites. However, to determine the specific reporters and journalists you should be targeting (e.g., healthcare reporter, education reporter, etc.) you will need to dig deeper. Research should include reading past articles written by the journalist to get a sense of their style and to build connections where possible in your pitch.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget to Follow Up
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying! In the fast-paced PR world, persistency and following up is key. GRIT recommends balanced follow up via phone and email.
If a journalist or reporter is not interested that is okay. You can come back with a different story another time. What you want to avoid is being too pushy or continuously following up after being told the reporter is not interested. This could ruin your relationship with that specific media outlet/reporter and affect future coverage.
Let GRIT’s Public Relations Team Help You with Media Pitching
Developing a great media pitch takes time and persistency to bring to life but earned media placements are very valuable for brands. At GRIT, a marketing and public relations agency based out of York, Pennsylvania, we offer a wide variety of services including media pitching, media training, copywriting, crisis communications and more. If you are interested in getting your brand and company leadership noticed by the media, get in touch with our team today to learn how we can help support you earned media coverage efforts.