Recently, on a Business Wire webinar, I spoke to Lydia Dishman, Contributing Editor, Fast Company; Jefferson Graham, Tech Columnist, USA Today; and Anna Medaris Miller, Senior Heath Reporter, Business Insider on how they want to be pitched. You can view our conversation here.
We talked about COVID-19 and racial justice, topics that are gripping the news cycle right now. What I learned from them is that the basics still count. Paraphrasing Jefferson Graham, if you have a great story to tell, tell it, but it has to solve a problem. Tell me about the problem and how your company is solving it. Anna Medaris Miller added, “be honest about what you are selling.” And, perhaps most importantly, Lydia Dishman said, “Every company has a story because every company is made of people.”
What I also learned is regardless of the kind of reporter they are -- a business reporter, a healthcare reporter, and a tech reporter -- they are all covering aspects of breaking news. Journalists are busier than ever, as more people are reading, listening, or watching the news. They want to listen to you, they want to hear your stories, if not to use now, then for later. They do go back into their email and look for stories and contacts if they are stuck on ideas, sources, or information.
Here is how you are going to get their attention, and the attention of other journalists.
- Use social media to better understand what journalists are working on, and if you have someone for them to interview, use social media to communicate with them.
- Make news releases a part of your pitch, but not all of your pitch. Use news releases for announcements and as a primary source of information.
- Do your homework. If you want to pitch a journalist, make it personal to what they are covering and who they are. Generic pitches do not work.
- Create a subject line and/or news release headline that becomes the story headline. If you don’t have a good subject line or news release headline, the journalists are not going to read your pitch.
- Don’t call, send an email. Your points should be concise, clear and to the point.
We spent a lot of time talking about what makes a good pitch. After the webinar, Jefferson Graham sent me an example of a pitch he liked. Due to timing, Jefferson didn’t use it, but he thought it was good. It didn’t have a subject line, which was problematic, but he summarized the pitch this way for me: “Female CEO in tech, mom and pop business and they make Jimmy Fallon's microphone.” What he liked about the pitch was that it was short; it clearly defined the who and what and the writer completed the pitch with a unique position.
To summarize, when you are thinking about your pitch, make it short, keep it to the point and say upfront what makes your story unique.
Although the advice may sound basic, the basics count when pitching and when reaching out to journalists. Do your homework, get their names right, get their beats right, and be concise. Use Business Wire to ensure your news release is part of your pitch and establishes a primary source of information. If you would like more information on how we can help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +1.888.381.9473.
Learn more. Download our whitepaper, Breaking Through the Noise: Five requirements for pitching the media.
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