Have you ever wondered how to pitch journalists in your industry and get coverage? If so, you’re not alone. Before we get into why and how to pitch journalists in your industry — you need to understand that it’s not magic. There are no shortcuts, and there are usually no quick wins.
The reality is that building relationships with journalists is a long-term play. It’s not a one-off task. You will only see results if you’re genuinely passionate about building authentic relationships with people that might be able to help you amplify your message.
Be prepared to show value and provide public relations (PR) friendly information if you want to earn coverage for your brand or business.
The key to pitching journalists is personalization
Pitching journalists seems like a daunting task, but it’s not as hard as you think. It is time-consuming, and a huge part of that time is spent on personalization. Each email must feel individualized to inspire trust, create an element of intrigue, and get your pitch read all the way through. To this end, I suggest you think about the person who will be reading your message before you even start writing—you can’t personalize effectively if you don’t know who you are pitching to!
To this extent, you should spend some quality time researching your target journalist: take note of their interests, read their recent articles and check out their social media profiles. These things will help you figure out how best to approach them and whether they are someone worth approaching.
Know the right people at the right media outlets.
“Before you even think about pitching a journalist, spend time understanding the outlet and its coverage goals,” advised Heather Englehorn, who works with Techstars. “Maybe they are covering enterprise tech, or maybe they’re in the business of helping small businesses succeed. Maybe they are looking for quick-hit explainers on buzzy topics like blockchain or artificial intelligence. Knowing what you want to write about and how it aligns with the vision of their coverage will help you determine if this outlet is a good fit.”
Part of knowing what an outlet wants is knowing its audience. If your story doesn’t appeal to them, don’t bother pitching. “For example,” said Drew Larson, founder and CEO of Digital Press, “the same story that might be interesting to industry insiders at one publication may not be so interesting to a general audience at another publication.”
It’s also important to know which journalists cover your niche within that publication and make sure that you pitch specifically to them rather than submitting content via a general submission page.
Reach journalists who have already covered your topic
To increase your chances of getting media coverage, you can simply type a relevant topic into Google News and list the publications that have covered this topic in the last 4-6 months. Next, click on each article, identify the author, and reach out to them personally. Since that journalist has already covered the topic, you have a greater chance of connecting with them on a related topic or follow-up article.
FACT: 94% of journalists want to see pitches that are three short paragraphs, max. If you can trim it to two or three sentences, that’s even better.
Journalists are busy and run on tight deadlines; if your email is short and easy to skim, they’re more likely to pay attention. Add bullet points to break up the text if needed.
Have a clear story angle in mind
Have a clear story angle in mind. When you pitch to journalists, you need to be able to clearly explain why they should care about what you have to say. That’s where the ‘story angle’ comes in. You need to express your story as concisely and clearly as possible. Why are you contacting them? What do you want from them? Why should they care? Be clear about the story angle you are offering and make sure that is captured in your subject line and email text. This will help journalists understand when they read it and if they can use your information or not.
Be prepared to answer questions that might come up
After identifying the journalists in your industry, it’s time to prepare. Here is what you need to include on your list of action items:
- A list of key points that you want to get across.
- A list of questions that they may probably ask—and write these down as if they’re already being asked. (For instance, “Do a lot of people use this?” can be written as “Yes, we have thousands of customers using it”) You may not get an actual question-and-answer session, but it will help you plan how and when you’ll address each point.
- Be ready for unexpected questions.
- Have follow-up questions for them about their publication, audience or editorial needs. The more interested and engaged you seem, the more likely they want to work with you again in the future.
Keep your pitch short and sweet
- Keep your pitch short and sweet.
- Don’t waste a journalist’s time with a long-winded pitch.
- Include a brief description of what you do, why it’s special and why it’s relevant to the reporter’s audience.
- Get to the point quickly.
- Journalists get hundreds of emails every day, so be brief and to the point in yours.
- Use bullet points to make it easier for journalists to skim your email.
How to find journalists that cover your industry
1. Use Twitter to discover journalists in your industry niche
2. Get a list of journalists that have written about your competitor’s products or services
3. Research the journalists who have written about your competitors’ products or services and reach out to them via email
4. Find and follow journalists on Twitter who follow your competitors’ CEOs on Twitter
5. Find and follow journalists on Twitter who follow your competitors’ companies on Twitter
6. Use HARO to find journalists who are looking for story ideas and content sources
A well-thought-out pitch can lead to coverage and a new narrative for your brand. But remember, your pitch is a marketing piece, not an opportunity to start sharing personal information. Ensure that what you’re pitching is attractive to the media outlet you’re pitching it to, while highlighting the most important details of your story.