Standing Out in the Crowd: 4 Tips to Media Pitching Success in a New Digital Landscape

Hallelujah! Your client or organization finally has a newsworthy anecdote to tell the press. Now, how do you get the attention of the reporter you so desperately want to tell your story?  With a variety of social channels and the accessibility of information directly on our mobile devices, common sense would tell you it should be easier than ever to get a reporter’s attention.

The brutal truth is that most journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day and if your pitch isn’t perfect and delivered at an ideal time, it will likely be ignored or passed over. Additionally, the shrinking number of journalists dwindles your options to a handful of reporters who would cover your story.

It takes savvy to have your voice heard. Here are a few tips to stand out in the crowd:

  • Pay Attention - Listen for what reporters are looking for. In order to do so, you need to be where they are talking. Social media is a great place to start. Often times, journalists will share with their followers what stories they are working on and if and when they need a source. That’s where you come in! Try social listening sites such as Muckrack to listen for engagement opportunities with multiple reporters at once.
  • Know What’s Going On – If something big is happening, chances are your top journalist choices are going to cover it. Ask yourself how your client or organization can be inserted into the conversation. Leverage the day’s events as opportunities to be thought leaders in the industry.
  • Back Up Your Pitch – Give the media what they need: pictures, video, research, etc. A pitch without those things will be viewed as a half-baked idea. If you can supply the reporter with what they need, he or she will view their job as partway done. Do not send attachments, which can clog up email, but rather include assets in a Dropbox link for viewing.
  • Start Early - The best way to endear yourself to a journalist is to initiate the relationship long before asking for a story to be published. In other words, treat your relationships with journalists as ends in and of themselves. As a soft opening, compliment their story using an @ mention on social media or ask a thoughtful question in the comment section of their story online. This will show you follow their work and are not just blindly pitching them on behalf of your client.

As I wrap my recommendations up, I just want to make this point: journalists are people too. If you treat them like some sort of email landfill, then your story will probably never be heard. The people that get the best results are the ones who put in that extra effort and time. When it’s all said and done, do you want to get covered once? Or do you want to build a relationship that garners lifetime results? Follow my four tips for the latter.

Jason Gilbreth is a Senior Account Executive at Trevelino/Keller. He spends his summer nights at Turner Field and his weekends near the water.

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