A successful pitch to press is fundamental for a company's thought leadership status and brand awareness. When working internationally with different countries and cultures, there are specifics and decisive differences that need to be taken into account. In this article, our PR experts with decades of experience in the DACH media landscape will share some best practices when pitching to media in the DACH market. 

Cultural differences – Do not play with my data

German readers differ greatly from the ones in the USA as they tend to communicate as direct as possible. This means they are not taken on by flowery formulations and recognize marketing phrases at a glance. They place value on fact-oriented texts and want the author to get to the point without repetition.

A German peculiarity is data protection sensitivity. This topic should be handled with the utmost care. Compared with other European countries, the German-speaking countries are particularly sensitive in this regard and are quick to react critically. Germans attach great importance to their privacy and therefore to the security of their data.

The German media landscape – where print media still plays a role

With the spread of online media, the reach and importance of print media is steadily declining worldwide. Although print media is also slowly losing its reach in the DACH region, the effectiveness in the German-speaking region remains. Especially verticals as public institutions and industry are still attracting a large number of interested readers in print media, as opposed to the consumer sector, which is gaining its audience online. That is because many decision-makers in these fields place a high level of trust in the trade press. However, some of these verticals are not as far advanced in their own digitization or are subject to very strict online regulations due to security concerns. Print media, therefore, continues to have a strong presence.

Especially with these expert publications, longer response times are to be expected. A specific issue is often published every few months, which means that the article cannot always appear in the current edition. Therefore, delayed media coverage of up to a few months can be expected.

Due to the current pandemic situation, some journalists are working remotely or are on short-time work. The latter is a German form of employment in which employees work for a limited period of time at a reduced number of hours. It is common for them to be unavailable or difficult to be reached by phone during this time. That is because digitalization in Germany lacks behind and many employees often do not set up call forwarding to their cell phones. Additionally, as of strict data protection regulations, editorial offices are rarely allowed to pass on phone numbers. 

Best practices for pitching

Exclusive information is the best

To reach journalists, the only possible way is often via e-mail. By doing so, you are rarely the only one, so it is even more important that the submitted material stands out among the competition. It can be helpful if the topic refers to a current context. In the case of popular topics that are worked on by many, additional information or details with added value are a distinguishing feature from the competition, something they cannot provide. Particularly when reaching out to Tier 1 publications, this information can be offered on an exclusive basis to attract the interest of journalists.

The early bird catches the worm

Based on almost 40 years of experience in the DACH media landscape and the findings of our own survey, we can provide tips on the optimal dispatch of media pitches. The timing aspect plays an important role: mornings — preferably from Tuesday to Thursday — are particularly suitable for sending press releases or articles to journalists. The worst time is Monday, as the majority of journalists hold their editorial meeting then.

In-depth groundwork for successful pitches

In order to make a successful pitch, it is crucial to choose the right angle, since it is decisive for the perception of the content. This is where most articles fail. Our tip is to conduct a preliminary media research on the very topic as it can help identify the different aspects through the public’s eyes. Ideally, incorporate those into your pitch.

Additionally, we recommend conducting research about the journalists and their most recent publications. It is important to determine which topics are currently on their agenda and whether they have already reported on the topic and what aspects they have focused on.

If editors have already taken up the topic of the pitch a few weeks ago, they are prone to decline another article with similar content. Should they still intend to do so, latest information and important added value are key.

Let’s not forget that journalists need to present their articles and ideas in editorial meetings. The better we prepare the material, the easier it is for them to justify the story to their superiors, hence the greater are the chances of a successful pitch.

Ebru-Ozalan-HBI HBI_Logo_resize

Ebru Özalan is an Account Director at HBI, Germany.

This post is part of a thought-leadership series from The Worldcom Public Relations Group featuring media relations best practices and local market insights.

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