Info Plus Data Equals Credibility: Toronto Star Editors on How to Pitch

October 18, 2011

by Rishika Luthra, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Canada

Rishika Luthra

Rishika Luthra

Ever wondered why your press release didn’t get the traction you felt it deserved? Or why a specific newspaper ignored your announcement? The answer is simple: the best way to “be heard” is to first know the publications you’re pitching.

Andrew Phillips

Andrew Phillips, Toronto Star -- photo by Richard Arless

In a candid discussion with Business Wire Canada, Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca; and Andrew Phillips, Editorial Page Editor at The Toronto Star; shared some useful tips on  do’s and don’ts for pitching their publications.

According to Brandie, five key points to consider while targeting top Canadian newspapers are:

1) Dovetail your press release with market trends

The Toronto Star might not run a company profile or a news story just about what your company is doing. Try to consider your promotional needs in the context of broader issues and news. For instance, suggest a story that examines what your company or organization is doing in the context of a trend, market need or societal issue.

2)  Beef up your credibility

Make sources besides your own company contacts available. Ensure that your contacts are well-prepped with relevant talking points. If possible, try to get an outside source for an unbiased perspective.

3) Be media wise and stay ahead of the game

Research the types of articles run by the publication you are pitching. For example, if you pitch a pure product story and the publication does not have a product-related section or history of running that kind of story, your press release won’t get lucky. Tailor your pitch to the sections they DO have and the article types they favour. Browse the publication’s website to learn more about the news sections.

Brandie Weikle

Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca

4) Relevance is directly proportional to pick-up!

Suggest your ideas in the context of ongoing coverage of stories that are already being developed. If your idea can further the story in some way, and you can show that you have been reading our coverage closely, your chances of success are greater.

5) Information combined with data: A winning duo

Lastly, websites do very well with headlines that have numbers in them — for instance: “7 things you need to know about XXXXX,” “5 secrets to XXXXX,” and so on. If suitable, consider structuring your pitch to provide these kinds of winning lists that readers enjoy.

As a final word to the wise, Andrew has this suggestion: “In an industry characterized by continuous change, the most essential attribute for any news content is relevance. Sometimes it is a prestige issue for companies; however, they need to understand the importance of getting their message out by leveraging social media and bypassing the bigger media. For example, announcements about management changes within companies, unless they involve corporations such as RIM or Apple Inc, do not qualify as being newsworthy for our publication.”


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