When pitching a story to a journalist, it is as important to keep in mind what not to do in your pitch as it is to keep in mind what to do.
A recent article posted on Ragan’s PR Daily and written by Shalon Roth explains exactly how not to pitch a story to a journalist. The article highlights 20 major mistakes that many PR professionals commonly make, and the 20 points boil down to four main themes.
1. Don’t be careless. Getting a journalist’s name wrong or misspelling it is not exactly the best way to start things. Neither is misspelling words, especially since most journalists are sticklers for grammar and spelling.
2. Don’t bombard the reporter. Mass emails sent to numerous journalists with an impersonal pitch do not provide the journalist with much incentive to respond. Neither does calling the journalist to ask if they got your email. Be patient to hear back, and only call to provide more details and context.
3. Don’t pitch a story to a reporter that you know nothing about. It is imperative that you read some of the journalist’s work before pitching to them. Make sure that the story you are pitching is something they would actually be interested in covering.
4. Don’t send lengthy pitches. Get to the point quickly in your pitch. Don’t ramble on, and don’t load up your pitch with attachments. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t comfortably paste it in the body of the email, it’s too much.
In line with the article, here are our thoughts at KCI about crafting your pitch and reaching out to the media to give you the best chance for success:
1. Do your research. Get to know the journalist. They don’t exist to write stories for you or your client. They are there to serve their readers, viewers or listeners. A journalist will be more likely to show interest in your story if you show knowledge of their beats or areas of interest. Also, researching their previous work is important, and referencing one of their recent pieces is always a plus.
2. Build a relationship with the journalist. Journalists want to work with you as much as you want to work with them. Learn about what types of stories interest them and see how you can help each other. Always respect deadlines and deliver on your promises. One great pitch to a journalist could result in a relationship that benefits both parties for years to come.
3. Don’t give up. Crafting the perfect pitch takes time. You are not going to get replies from every journalist on your first try. Be prepared to deal with rejection, and don’t let it stand in your way. If you target the right journalists with the right story ideas, you’ll break through.
Employing these tips should result in higher success rates and lead to your stories seeing the light of day that they deserve. So, next time you find yourself one click-away from sending an impersonal, mass email pitch, stop yourself immediately and come back to this blog post!
To read to full story on Ragan’s PR Daily, click here.