How to Pitch to The Media
In my previous blog post I wrote about how to write a press release. Now that you’ve created a press release the media will actually read, the next challenge is how to pitch to the media.
The first step is figuring out the media outlets that would be most interested in your story. Yes, you can send it to all of the media outlets in your area, but realistically your story will not appeal to every single outlet. This is why it’s important to focus your pitching on the media outlets that best align with your story.
Before you can determine how to pitch to the media you must first understand the scope of your story. Here are some questions to answer.
- Is it a local story? Regional? National? International? If you think your story has a big reach, why?
- Who is your audience? Narrow this down as specifically as possible. Example moms ages 25 to 40 with a university degree making over $60,000/year.
- Why should they care? Note – this will help you create the pitch. Answering the who cares question will help media understand your audience and story.
- What types of media would be interested? Daily newspaper, weekly newspaper (focused on local stories), national radio, local radio, national television, regional television, online news outlets, bloggers (drilling down into specific subject areas), online influencers?
- Within your selected media, is there a reporter or writer who covers your subject area?
- Does your selected media need visuals? What are your story’s visuals?
- Who cares? Yes I mentioned it earlier, but ask yourself again and get clear on who would care about this story.
You can see there is a bit of research and legwork that needs to be done before you can pitch to the media. This is important to have your press release picked up by the media your audience reads or watches.
Before you get overwhelmed and roll your eyes, I’m not saying you have to do this research for EVERY media outlet. As mentioned earlier you can send your news release to a number of media and hope for the best. But for the select media you are pitching to, this research is critical.
Now that you have your list of media you would like to pitch, you need to write individualized emails helping the editor or reporter understand how your press release relates to their audience.
For example, when I was launching my first book, Bed Rest Mom, I researched all the parenting magazines, mommy bloggers, pregnancy Facebook groups and health columnists who had previously written about pregnancy and maternal health. I then wrote personalized emails to 40 media outlets explaining my book, how it helps pregnant women, and highlight the fact Bed Rest Mom is the first book written in Canada related to pregnancy bed rest (the hook). I attached a copy of my press release (Word document not PDF) and hit send.
For a select group from this list (narrowing down further), I followed up with phone calls asking if they had received my news release and once again explaining how it related to their audience. The result was three confirmed book reviews in parenting magazines in the first two days, with another seven articles (four full page) and three speaking engagements.
Yes, pitching to the media is a bit more work than writing a press release and hitting send. But the extra effort will help secure the media coverage you want.
Think about the last time you pitched to the media. Did you send a generic press release to email addresses you found on websites? Or did you go from a media distribution list that had be cultivated over time? Once you sent the press release, what follow up did you do? How did you connect with your target media to make sure they not only received your press release, but also knew how it related directly to their audience? Now what will you do differently the next time you need to pitch to the media? Be honest so you can think about how you can have the most impact.
Check out my how to guide to find out more tips on how to pitch to the media.