If you want to win press coverage then you need to master two things: how to come up with a killer pitch and how to contact the media about a story in the correct way.
That’s why we’ve put together this how to pitch journalists guide, to walk you through the following:
And in addition to this guide, you can also download our Pitching to Journalists Toolkit, which contains 6 sample email pitches to journalists, as well as an email pitch template.
Okay, I’m starting with the basics here! But this is important context. PR remains a bit of a mystery to many people and the thought of trying to win media coverage can be downright bewildering.
So here’s our definition:
A pitch is a speculative approach to a journalist, where you offer something of value, with the intention of it winning press coverage for you or your company.
What you offer to a journalist will determine the type of pitch you send. I’ll walk you through this below.
One of the questions we get asked the most is how to get a journalist to write about you.
It’s no use simply pitching any old thing to journalists. If a pitch offers no value, it’ll just end up in the trash folder. So how can you prevent this fate from befalling your pitches?
It takes clearly defined business goals, a well-crafted narrative and expert knowledge of your industry and current trends, as the below graphic demonstrates.
Ultimately – you need to give more than you take. What we mean by this is if you just pitch blatantly promotional stuff, such as why your startup is going to disrupt your industry, you’re not going to win press coverage.
Always bear in mind: it’s a journalist’s job to write stories, not promote products.
So with this being the case, you need to offer journalists news, stories or ideas that are unique and present real value to their readers.
Every pitch needs a hook. This is the way you present your news, story or idea so that it stimulates interest and demonstrates its newsworthiness.
The hook you develop will depend on what it is you’re pitching and the industry you’re in. Here are some common examples to help you develop yours:
The following section helps to place all of the above into context, by providing examples of the types of pitches we send to journalists.
We categorize our journalists’ pitches based on the type of story, news or insight they’re offering. Here’s the list of our most common pitch types.
Used when pitching for a guest post spot in a publication, which is talking about a general topic relevant to your industry.
Used when pitching actionable and practical insights which are based on your own experience and expertise.
Used to jump on a breaking news story that’s relevant to you or your business by pitching to offer expert opinion and insight.
Used when pitching to provide an overview or analysis of something that’s happening at a high level in your industry.
Used when pitching a story, advice or insight that provides a solution to a known problem.
This one’s nice and simple. It’s used when you’re pitching your product to professional reviewers.
*When pitching for a guest article (otherwise known as a guest post), make sure you only pitch to outlets that accept guest article submissions and that you pitch to an editor, rather than a journalist. Pitching these to outlets that don’t accept them is a sure way to ruffle feathers.
Allow me to get technical for a moment. A press release is a medium for writing and transmitting information about a company announcement. But what does this actually mean?
Well – if you have something to announce (for example, securing funding or signing a new partnership), then you can write and email a press release to journalists. They can then publish this in its entirety or write it up into an article.
But, as you’ve no doubt already figured out, this is only useful on those occasions that you have something newsworthy to announce. And if you’re a startup, this may only be a handful of times a year.
That’s why you need to use the above types of pitches to win press coverage when you have no company announcements to make.
There’s no one type of press coverage that PR generates. Here are the main types of coverage that a successful pitch can generate:
When you write an article that’s published by a publication under your name.
When you provide a comment for a story that’s attributed to you.
When you appear as a guest, such as on a podcast
When a journalist writes a profile about you.
When you get a feature interview in a publication, such as a trade journal.
When your product is professionally reviewed by a publication.
Being aware of these different types of press coverage will help you define your objectives and better articulate the offer you’re making in your pitch.
Once you’ve come up with a killer idea for a pitch, the next step is to find the most relevant journalists to send it to.
There are two important things to bear in mind here:
This can sound time-consuming, but it needn’t be when you apply the correct process and the right tools. Our guide to finding journalists’ contact details provides a step-by-step guide on how to do this.
Now comes the actual outreach. This is where you need to condense your great idea into a short and concise email, that will grab the attention of reporters and demonstrate its value to them. So, how to write a press enquiry?
This is what you need to keep in mind, when writing your pitch:
Before you type the first word, be sure of what it is you’re offering to a journalist and the type of press coverage you’re trying to win. Your pitch needs to clearly explain what it is you’re offering, why this is of value to the journalist and the type of media coverage you’re seeking, so if you’re not certain on this, your email is going to lack coherence and purpose.
Remember, it’s a journalist’s job to tell stories – not promote products. I hate to say this, but most journalists don’t really care about your product, and this why you need to be far more creative when trying to win earned media.
Pitches to journalists are often based on a template (hey, we’re even giving some away with this guide!). But make the effort to personalize each one you send out. Use the journalist’s name in the subject line and your opener. And if you can, include references to any previous related articles the journalist has written, linking these to your pitch.
Make sure every sentence serves a purpose and that the email to the journalist is free of waffle. Break up any large paragraphs with bullet points, to call out the key points of your offer.
Your social proof is the evidence of your credibility. It’s no use just saying in a pitch that you’re an expert on the subject, you have to provide evidence of this. This can be a via a brief summary of your resume or links to other other press coverage that you’ve won.
Make sure you build upon your hook throughout your pitch. The introduction, context, social proof and the offer all need to support the overall hook of your pitch. Our journalist email pitch example in the following section illustrates how to do this.
Below is a sample email pitch to a journalist. This is a breaking news hook email pitch that’s jumping on a partnership announcement made by Affirm and Walmart. It’s offering a perspective on how fintech startups are impacting traditional banks, and what they can do to fight back.
Use the subject line to grab the journalist’s attention. Call them out by name, then explain the subject of crux of your pitch
In this example we lead with the journalist’s name, then explain what the subject of the pitch is about – which in this case is a breaking news hook pitch
Use the first paragraph to provide context of what it is your pitching and to personalize the pitch by relating it to something the journalist has recently written about.
In this example we start the pitch by referencing a recent article that the journalist wrote, which is on the topic of this breaking news hook pitch.
Use the next paragraph to start building your hook. Always support this with data points and links to other articles or research that supports your angle.
In this example our angle is built around how traditional banks are feeling the pressure of fintechs and how this is eroding their market share. We also support this with a relevant data point.
Use the following paragraph to fully flesh out your angle, if required.
In this example the previous paragraph posed a problem, while this paragraph suggests a partial solution. This partial solution is then related to the “offer” at the end of the pitch.
Now comes the introduction of the person offering the story and their company. Use this as your social proof, to explain why you’re qualified to talk about the subject your pitching.
In this example, as the offer is on behalf of a CEO at a fintech company, we’ve provided an explanation of what the company does, to demonstrate why the CEO is qualified to talk about this topic.
And here is the actual offer to the journalist. You need to explain exactly what it is you’re offering, which you can do here.
In this example we’re offering commentary, a bylined article (which is another term for a guest article) or an interview. We then provide details of the topics that this person can provide input on.
Based on our own research, we find that the best time to contact a journalist is either Tuesday or Wednesday, between 8am and 9am.
When pitching to journalists, make sure you stay on their right side by following some basic etiquette.
Now you’ve read our Guide on How to Pitch to Journalists, you know how to come up with ideas to win media coverage and how to contact the press the right way.
And we’ve made actually doing this even easier with our free Pitching to Journalists Toolkit. The toolkit provides everything you need to start writing pitches and contacting journalists, including:
Interested in finding out more about how we can design a PR strategy to support your business goals? Send us a note using the below form and our PR specialist will be in touch to arrange a chat.