Knowing what is newsworthy and what journalists need in order to develop stories are essential qualities to have before you start thinking about contacting journalists to pitch or contribute to stories.
Once you are ready to start pitching, it is important to note that not all journalists are alike when it comes to how they like to be approached. Some like to be called but many prefer to be emailed, as it takes up less of their time, so make sure you know how every one of the journalists you plan to approach likes to be contacted so you don’t get them offside. A cookie cutter approach to this is not the appropriate course of action.
Be mindful that journalists receive a lot of pitches, so the time they can devote to responding to each is minimal. Keep your pitch brief, and most importantly, make sure it is relevant to them.
A good way of determining the relevancy of your pitch is to thoroughly research your target prior to contacting the journalist. Get a good feel of the publication and check out some of the journalist’s previous work, so you know the type of story that you’re pitching will be of interest to them.
When pitching, don’t just spruik a new product or service. These types of pitches are likely to be rejected. Instead, offer some valuable industry insight or identify a challenge in the sector and offer to discuss how you plan to address it. That way, you have much more chance of piquing the journalist’s interest and you will still have the opportunity to drop in a mention about your new product or service during that wider conversation.
Be aware of journalist’s deadlines and adhere to them. Don’t leave it until the last minute to respond to a call out for contributors, as it is highly likely that they will already have more info than they need. Get in as early as possible. Also, don’t promise to provide them with access to a spokesperson by a certain date if you’re not sure you will be able to deliver on this, because if you let a journalist down and they have to scramble for a replacement at the last minute, the damage you will do to that relationship can be irreparable.
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