Public Relations Pitching 101

Industry news

Selling your stories to the media can be a nerve-wracking experience. But despite the possibility of being met with countless no's or no replies, building an effective pitch doesn't have to be a challenging task. It can actually be as simple as 1, 2, 3.....Okay, maybe 1 to 10.

  1. Find your spark. What's significant about your organisation? What makes it stand out from others? Find your organisation’s passion, vision and drive and the human side of what it’s doing, and make these aspects stand out in your story. 
  2. Think like a journalist. Put yourself into the journalist's shoes and consider what type of stories they would be interested in. Send journalists stories that they’re likely to cover and that grab people’s attention. This usually includes stories that stress good human interest, organisations rising above adversity, emotional journeys or the unlikely underdogs.
  3. Be strategic. Journalists are bombarded with thousands of emails daily, and if you’re lucky, yours will be one of a hundred they’ll actually read. Rather than information dumping, you need to strategically maximise the chance of communication. A quick email saying “Hi, I hope you're well. This is what’s happening, let me know if you’re interested,” is much more effective than just sending journalists a media release without notice. Remember, they can always contact you for more information.
  4. Speak with journalists, not to them. Don’t just read journalists a media release, provide them with a narrative that they can connect with and that will intrigue their readers. 
  5. Write your story down. This is self-explanatory. Strip your story to its bare minimum, but don’t be hesitant to mention your successes. These highlight the social value underpinning your organisation’s actions, and gives journalists a reason to use the story.
  6. Transform your story into a journalist-friendly pitch. Make sure your pitch is coherent, well written and presented. Have you answered the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why)? Have you clearly presented the journalist with a value proposition? You should be able to communicate these aspects into three key points.
  7. Make your pitch newsworthy. Use an angle that journalists will find interesting, timely and relevant. When drafting your pitch, you should consider whether the story is relevant to the journalist (is it something they would cover?), whether timing is ideal (have they published stories around a related topic?) and whether the story is interesting (does it shock, surprise or entertain? does it provoke emotion?). Capitalise on the viral power of a trending event, story or recent study and tie it into your pitch.
  8. Be versatile. Pitches don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Develop several versions of your story by highlighting relevant angles for different audiences and outlets.
  9. Get a system in place. Quality is much more important than quantity. Ensure you’re pitching to the right person by compiling a list of media contacts that best fit your organisation and categorising your outlets. Start with those you desire most, or with the longest lead times, and work your way through. This helps you keep track of which outlets you have contacted, preventing repetition.
  10. Remember no now doesn’t mean no forever. Sometimes, the story just isn’t right for the journalist. Make sure you understand why journalists say no by asking them what types of stories they are interested in, then use this as a segue for future pitches.