3 Ways to Make Your Media Pitch Stand Out

In public relations, there’s never a guarantee your story is going to be picked up by a reporter. But, too often, businesses kill their chances of getting media coverage by failing to communicate to the press that they’re fans.

When you #pitch the media, it’s a two-way street. You’ve got to show them you’re paying attention. @brigittelyons

To get the media coverage you dream of, sometimes it’s as simple as showing an editor you’re a fan of her publication. Here’s three ways you can weave that into your media pitch.

1. Know what section you’d like to be covered in.

Before you pitch the media, glance at the Table of Contents to decide which section is the best home for your story. Let’s say you want to get a profile  in  your local paper. In your email, make sure you let the reporter know that’s what you’re asking for, and call out the business section by its proper name. Don’t make assumptions, even for the most straight-forward topics. In the SF Chronicle, it’s Biz & Tech. In the Chicago Tribune, it’s just Business.

You would not believe how often people skip this step, which is why it stands out when you get it right.

2. Match your pitch to the type of story you’d like to get. 

Compare the following list to the publication in front of you, and identify which story type is used in the section you’re targeting.

  1. How tos
  2. Lists and round-ups
  3. Essays
  4. Profiles
  5. Features and trend stories

Of course, there’s also breaking news/investigative reporting, but most of us aren’t playing in this sandbox. Thankfully.

Once you know the story type, you can polish your pitch so a reporter can’t help but take a second look. For instance, in the Holiday Gift Guide Bootcamp, we’re focusing on product round-ups. By looking at an example, you can ascertain that your submission should include an image, your price point, a brief product description, and a link to buy.

On the other hand, a profile piece will focus on your big idea or a challenge you’ve overcome, so you’d want to lead with a story.

3. Get (and use) the name of your right-fit media contact.

Sending a pitch to “To whom it may concern” or “Hi friend!” is a big no-no. Don’t do it! You absolutely, positively must send your email to an actual person and, for the love of chocolate, use his or her name.

If you find a byline on a story, that’s fab. If not, you have one last stop — the masthead. The masthead is the boring looking page listing every staffer working for the publication. Send your email to the person who seems to be lowest on the totem pole with direct responsibility for the section you’re targeting. So, if you’re pitching a health story, send your pitch to the assistant health editor.

These three steps make or break your pitch. When you fail to address your media contact by name and show no awareness of the type of stories she tells, you may save time, but you only succeed at one thing — pissing off a journalist.

On the flip side, follow my lead and you’ll show up as a valuable source — someone a journalist can turn to next time she’s on deadline.

3 ways to make your media pitch stand out