What Advice Would You Give for Pitching Stories to Journalists?


    What Advice Would You Give for Pitching Stories to Journalists?

    Seeking to master the art of engaging the press, we've gathered nine invaluable tips from seasoned Journalists, Editors, and Marketing professionals. From understanding journalists' needs and interests to leading with the most compelling information, these experts provide a roadmap to crafting pitches that resonate.

    • Understand Journalists' Needs and Interests
    • Craft Concise, Personalized Pitches
    • Add Substance to Your Pitch
    • Align Pitch with Journalist's Beat
    • Research Journalist's Previous Work
    • Respect Journalist's Time and Audience
    • Know Your Audience for Custom Pitches
    • Highlight Unique Angles in Personalized Pitches
    • Lead with the Most Compelling Information

    Understand Journalists' Needs and Interests

    These days, I receive so much information from PRs and (more frequently) digital marketing companies in the form of articles. As a journalist, I don't want that. No matter how well-written it might be, it hinders me. If it's newsworthy and important, I want to write the story myself rather than regurgitate someone else's attempt, and I don't want to go digging through a long article to find the salient points.

    So, my one piece of advice is to understand a journalist's job and what they need from you if they are to feature your story. Here are some tips:

    - Firstly, understand their publication and readership, and send only relevant stories. Do the research yourself; don't rely on media database delivery services to decide who to send it to.

    - Present the facts, no "fluff."

    - Say why this is important to a wider audience and matters to the wider public. A new website or business award might be hugely important to your client, but to be blunt, no one else cares.

    - Always include a quote from the client and an appropriate image (without logos).

    I understand how "proud" your client is and how amazing their product/service/partnership is. However, I cannot use a quote if that's all it says. The quote should further the story. For example, tell me what this news means for your customers, how it benefits them, and how you plan to develop it.

    This may seem frank and dogmatic, but it's from someone who's been receiving pitches for over twenty years. Follow these simple rules, and your pitches will be effective.

    Alison Pittaway
    Alison PittawayJournalist and Editor, MindScribe Media

    Craft Concise, Personalized Pitches

    Keep it concise and relevant. Journalists are pressed for time, so get straight to the point with a compelling headline and a brief summary of your story's unique angle. Personalize your pitch—mention why it fits their beat and why their audience will care. Provide all necessary details, but avoid overwhelming them with information. Include quotes, statistics, and links to high-quality images or videos to enhance the story. Follow up politely if you don't hear back, but don't pester. Building a genuine relationship with journalists can also increase your chances of coverage.

    Bhavik Sarkhedi
    Bhavik SarkhediCMO, Write Right

    Add Substance to Your Pitch

    Make sure your pitch has substance. I can't stress enough how many pitches I receive that add no value, merely announcing a business's existence or its generic commitment to the industry. Avoid meaningless phrases and offer something insightful to increase your chance of getting published.

    Neil PopeAutomotive journalist

    Align Pitch with Journalist's Beat

    At Destify, we excel in pitching wedding stories to journalists by focusing on the unique and captivating aspects of destination weddings. Our approach is to tailor each pitch to align with the journalist’s specific interests and beat, ensuring that our stories stand out and resonate with their audience.

    We start by thoroughly researching the journalist’s previous work and identifying the themes and topics they frequently cover. Whether they focus on travel, wedding trends, or luxury experiences, we customize our pitch to highlight how our destination wedding stories fit perfectly within their niche.

    For example, suppose a journalist often writes about exotic travel destinations. In that case, we emphasize the breathtaking locations of our all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. We showcase the stunning beachside venues, lush tropical gardens, and luxurious accommodations that make these destinations perfect for weddings.

    If a journalist is more interested in wedding trends, we highlight unique aspects of destination weddings such as culturally inspired ceremonies, eco-friendly wedding options, or the growing trend of multi-day wedding celebrations. We provide detailed information on how these trends are beautifully executed at our resorts, complete with real-life examples and testimonials from couples who have experienced these memorable events.

    Garrett Nutgrass
    Garrett NutgrassMarketing Content Strategist, Destify

    Research Journalist's Previous Work

    Journalists Can Read Between the Lines

    I dedicated 15 years of my career as a professional journalist within outstanding organizations, including National Geographic and The Atlantic. The number one piece of advice I can provide for effectively pitching a story to a journalist is to take some time to read or watch their previous work. When pitches come in on unrelated topics or out of scope for the coverage you traditionally report, it's a huge tell that you don't know the journalist, and that your content might not be a good fit. Do your homework by reading and watching the types of content they produce before pitching your story! There is no substitute for this type of research. You will surely demonstrate your respect for their talent and be informed about their areas of interest.

    Ashley Kenny
    Ashley KennyCo-Founder, Heirloom Video Books

    Respect Journalist's Time and Audience

    Respect their time. Journalists and media people, in general, receive a frankly ludicrous amount of contact requests and pitches on a day-to-day basis. The best advice I ever heard from a journalist about how to work with them is to do your best not to waste their time. Reach out to them only for very good reasons, keep your pitch short and to the point, and highlight why their readers might be interested. Put yourself in their shoes, and the shoes of their readers, when crafting the pitch you want to send out, and you should get along swimmingly with your media contacts.

    Kate Kandefer
    Kate KandeferCEO, SEOwind

    Know Your Audience for Custom Pitches

    To successfully pitch a story to journalists, 'know your audience.' This means researching the journalist and their outlet to grasp the types of stories they cover and their tone, style, and interests. By customizing your pitch to align with their specific needs and preferences, you demonstrate thorough preparation and respect for their work, enhancing your chances of receiving a positive response and gaining coverage.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtDirector of Content, SmashBrand

    Highlight Unique Angles in Personalized Pitches

    One piece of advice I'd give for effectively pitching a story to journalists is to craft a compelling, personalized pitch that highlights the unique angle of your story. Journalists receive countless pitches daily, so standing out is essential.

    For example, when I pitched a story about a groundbreaking digital marketing campaign we ran for a non-profit, I focused on the human impact and the innovative approach we used. This approach captured their attention and resulted in a feature that significantly increased our company's visibility. Personalized pitches show respect for the journalist's time and demonstrate the unique value of your story.

    Marcus Clarke
    Marcus ClarkeOwner, Searchant

    Lead with the Most Compelling Information

    Offer the juiciest part first. When pitching a story, lead with the juiciest information. Make the most compelling and newsworthy element the focus of your message, starting from the email title and headline. Then, repeat the information in the body of your text, but here, provide more details, addressing the who, what, where, when, why, and how. It gives context to your story and helps the journalist understand the core of your message, justifying the juicy information you provided earlier. You may provide supporting details like statistics, quotes, or evidence that support the importance of your story or explain why the information you're pitching matters to a broad audience. Keep your flow restrained. Stick to the crucial points to not overwhelm the reader with too much information. Remember, you can always elaborate when they express interest. Why does this technique work? Leading with the most exciting part establishes the newsworthiness of your story immediately. It hooks the reader's attention and evokes interest, encouraging them to keep reading. Once their curiosity is piqued, they're more likely to be open to emails and read the entire pitch. At this point, you are already a winner.

    Nina Paczka
    Nina PaczkaCommunity Manager, MyPerfectResume