PR is incredibly valuable.
Unlike traditional advertising, it’s essentially an unpaid endorsement of your brand and can provide an authenticity that a great advertising campaign never will.
The more respected the journalist, the greater the value, as not only does your potential audience increase, so does the trust they have in what’s being said.
‘Pitching’ a story to a journalist is not the only way to generate PR for your business, but it can be a good starting point. If PR is not your day job, you won’t necessarily have relationships with those publications that you want to target. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go in for the pitch.
Here are six tips to help you make sure your story pitch hits the mark.
- It’s all in the angle
Think about the angle of your story. A purely commercial message, like a sale or a new product, is not necessarily newsworthy. Think about what the ‘hook’ of your pitch might be, what makes the story unique or personal? Once you’ve grabbed the attention of the journalist with a great story idea, you might be able to provide some commercial messages they could weave in to the piece.
- Hijack the news agenda
Sometimes it’s all in the timing. What’s topical at the moment? Is there a news item that’s generating a lot of coverage? Consider whether you can make a meaningful link between your product or service and what’s already high on the news agenda.
- Pick your target carefully
Ensure the publication you’re targeting is appropriate for the story you want to tell. If you’re pitching a local newspaper, does your story have a truly local angle? If you’re aiming for something fun and quirky, make sure the tone of the publication matches this approach. Think about the readership and whether your story would appeal to them.
- Do your research
Read up on the journalist and find out what they like to focus on. A quick Google search will reveal their recent pieces – make sure that what you’re proposing works well with the type of stories they tend to write. Journalists will also want to keep their content fresh; of equal importance is a quick check to ensure that they haven’t recently published something too similar to what you’re proposing.
Every journalist is looking for an exclusive. Whether you’re pitching a nice fluffy editorial piece or a hard-hitting news item, don’t farm identical pitches out to ten different journalists. This is a quick way to alienate any good contacts you might have. If you have limited ‘news’ with which to work, think about new and interesting angles to provide something that’s still original.
- Get to the point
Most journalists will prefer an email to a cold call. Don’t try and write the article for them – make reference to why you think they might be interested in a story (see point 4) and summarise your angle and key points. Make it short and sharp and provide them with an easy way to get in touch with you if they are interested in following up for more information.
Remember – journalists are always on the lookout for a good story, but they need to make sure they’re adding value for their readers.
If nothing else, remember the story’s ROI; Relevancy – why this will matter to the reader; originality – what’s new or fresh about it; interest – think like a reader and consider whether it would be interesting enough to grab your attention.