It is essential for any PR professional to know how to pitch their clients’ story to the media. It is equally imperative to know how NOT to pitch your stories as well.
The basics; know your clients’ business and audience stays in place, the learning here is to know your media just as well. This entails knowing the following:
1. What story should be pitched to which media outlets
2. What story should be pitched to what tier of media, reporter, editor, business editor, city editor etc.
3. What segment/section of the newspaper/program is relevant to your story
Once determined who to take which story to, while pitching avoid the following:
– Never mention a competitor’s similar news story as the journalist may take this as a demand or worse complaint. It may also come off as a ‘me-too’ situation bringing your credibility down as a strategic consultant.
– Never quote a similar story that has appeared in a competitor media outlet. No journalist wants to do a story which has already been published/aired by their competitor. Repeat – Nobody wants to be a ‘me-too’
– Remember media relations does not mean that the journalist you have previously worked with is your ‘friend’. Stick to the facts of the story, if you are talking about the journalists’ area of interest, they will definitely listen. Overly friendly attitude will get you nowhere since you are never off the record with the media and they expect you to know it!
– Never pitch a story to a journalist on a casual or social platform. Ensure professionalism and ethics to win the trust of the journalist. You may call them to pitch a story but never facebook them for a story. Understand the meaning of personal space.
– Never, EVER, pitch a negative story of a competitor! More than anything, it is unethical and bad practice for any business.
– If pitching a stealth story, don’t tell them it is a stealth story. Give them all the material, try to tap a human interest angle which they can relate to. Make it a discussion and make it sound like their idea – not yours.
– If you have previously done the journalist a favour, don’t mention it while pitching a story. It’s all about relations and even a gentle reminder of a favour you may have pulled will make the journalist question your intentions and character.
– Don’t deviate from the topic to another story you want to pitch or a press release of another client. Stay focused.
– Lastly, once you grab their attention, don’t disappear for a second and always be available to provide more information or support to the journalist.
If you guys have any more tips and tricks from your experience, please feel free to share them.