Pitch Craft Guide to Media Pitching: Secure Press Coverage

Pitch Craft Nellie PRSecure earned media coverage with my Pitch Craft Guide to Media Pitching. 

What a perfect Halloween day or rather a good enough spooky excuse to face some of your fears or rather one of your fears – the fear of media pitching or selling in your story to a journalist or blogger to secure media coverage.

Many businesses I talk to are scared to pitch their story for fear of rejection. And even if you work in PR and comms, you know that pitching is a craft that takes skill especially when you take into consideration the volume of emails that journalists receive daily. I’ve also witnessed experienced PR people wince at the thought of pitching especially if it means that they have to pick up the phone.

But don’t let fear hold you back. Media pitching doesn’t have to be scary. Indeed, once you’ve got a few successful pitches under your belt, you’ll come to love it, just like I do.

To help you, here are some Pitch Craft treats from me your friendly PR Witch – only at Halloween mind (the witch part that is) as I’m friendly all year round and really know my stuff when it comes to pitching.

Pitch Craft Treats for You

Get over Yourself

Remember, journalists, freelancers, bloggers, and the like need you as much as you need them. They need stories, they need ideas and content. If you’ve got a great story and something to say, want to say it and would benefit from some amazing press coverage (what business wouldn’t), brush up your Pitch Craft skills and get over yourself.

Why? Because it’s not about you. The end readers and viewers need to come first – answer the why or rather the ‘so what’ to make sure your pitch takes into account what the end audience wants to read, see or hear. The more you understand that audience, the better your pitch will be and you will focus on the outlet that is right for your audience.

Hook

Keeping with the Halloween theme – do you have a hook?

By hook, I mean a strong story that fits the publication/outlet in question such interesting and independent research, reaction to timely issues or news, follow-up or the promise of a case study.

In the main, the media isn’t interested in product news unless you’re talking the latest tech or selling in product for a specific feature. If that is the case, pitch away but make sure you don’t forget your hook – the thing that will make you stand out.

If you’re stuck for a hook, monitor the news for key issues in your industry. Google Alerts is a good free tool for this and could give you the hook you need to get in touch with the journalist that has just covered a particular issue – offer them a different angle or an opposing view, for example.

Research

Do your research. Is there a particular publication that you want to get in? Make sure you do your research and understand what exactly they are looking for and what taking part will entail. For example, if you’re looking for a slot on BBC 5 Live or BBC Breakfast that means an early start (so you have to be up for that and available) and the broadcast media will expect a busy and visual backdrop – so that will mean that you need to get your staff in early. Don’t promise and then not be able to deliver – you don’t tend to get second chances.

When checking out the publication or media outlet, you’ll see what sort of stories they cover and what sort of opportunities are available such as:

  • Features list or editorial calendar detailing the up-and-coming schedule – so you can time and pitch your comment in line with what they’re looking for
  • Submission guidelines – take note of these (same applies to blogs) – check out submission guides or ways you can work with me/contribute/FAQs) and follow the rules i.e. submit a synopsis first and ensure that the content is unique and hasn’t been featured elsewhere
  • Guest blog post – lots of publications give you the opportunity to submit guest blog posts. Again, follow the rules and if you get an opportunity, make sure you deliver and stick to the word count
  • Think beyond the obvious – there are some great podcasts, Twitter chats, and speaker opportunities. Take your time to understand the opportunities and where you could plug a gap or offer something different.

No opportunities or guidance listed? Drop a line to the publication in question. Many publications will issue a regular email to their PR contacts to let them know what is coming up with synopses and contact details. Make sure you’re on the mailing list.

If you’re a member of a business association, read this post: why being a member is great for PR

Be Personal but not over Familiar

Make sure you have the right person to pitch your story to. For example, if you’re a small business – focus on the small business correspondent and take the time to read/watch/listen to their previous work – so you know exactly what they want to write about or the type of stories they like to feature.

Remember, much of the media use freelancers so take the time to research and get to know the freelancers that write for the publication/outlet you want to feature in.

Here are some tips on finding the right contact and creating your very own media list.

Craft

Tailor your pitch. Spend time crafting it to the right person and make direct reference to the target end audience and the content you can supply.

Get straight to the point – bring in your hook and answer the who, what, where, when, why. Want to know what a successful pitch looks like or get feedback on a pitch of your own? Join my PR that PAYS programme or sign-up to my email newsletter list to be alerted (not spooked) with dates of my Pitch Craft workshops.

My next Pitch Craft training workshop is in July 2019.

Highlight

If you’re pitching to broadcast highlight the visual nature of the story or interview backdrop.

For radio, stress the fact that you can get to a local BBC studio (other studios are available) or that you’re happy to come into the studio.

Highlight your credibility (if pitching yourself forward) or the credibility of your spokesperson. For example, include a link to previous TV or radio footage to enable the journalist to check them out for suitability and a short biography so that the journalist/producer can check that they have the right experience.

For print and online, great photography, imagery as well as video footage (online) matters so include a link to a great photo(s) and highlight what imagery/footage/audio you have available. If you’re pitching to a particularly time-pressed visual publication (think interiors/fashion etc.) you can also embed the cut out image into the email so the journalist can see the visual straightaway.

Highlight the things that set you apart and show that you are the person to speak to i.e. the number of staff you employ, the oldest, where you are based for local pick-up, for example.

Timing

Having good timing helps.

For example, you don’t want to pitch a story too late. As a guide, in magazine land, Christmas is Christmas in July for a reason and glossy print magazines will work months in advance. Pitching something to a Sunday paper, make sure your pitch is there before Thursday.

Time your event so the media can cover it i.e. local TV needs to get to the event, film, get back to the studio and edit all in time for their slot.

Think key dates and issues – piggyback in advance of reports and figures such as the Budget, retail figures, ONS figures (the list goes on and on) and issue-jump on news coming out i.e. high profile documentary, third-party statistics, and reports.

When it comes to timing, also have a think about quiet news times. For example, Christmas can be a quiet time when a publication’s usual contacts are away on holiday meaning that you might get the chance to put forward your spokesperson, get the outlet to do a pre-record or secure some more detailed press coverage.

I’ve used quiet times to get some fantastic footage and press coverage ‘in the can’ to run over the festive period.

Be quick, if you are responding to a journalist request, including #journorequest on Twitter (not what it was but still useful for the odd opportunity) the early bird often catches the worm. The same goes for media requests you sign up for.

For more Pitch Craft advice, including tips on subject lines and how to build long term relationships, sign-up to my email newsletter for tips on PR that PAYS. You’ll also be the first to hear about my online workshops and PR training courses. My next Pitch Craft media pitching workshop takes place 16 July 2019 in Bristol.

In the meantime, good luck and here are some tips from me on making the most of your press coverage: 20 ways you can amplify your press coverage.

Looking to be more strategic with your PR? Join my PR that PAYS programme or check out ways you can work with me

Ellen Carroll

PR champion with a passion for profitable PR and newsworthy content. Setting up Nellie PR in 2007, Ellen has over 20 years’ experience in the PR and marketing industry.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

20 Ways to Amplify your Press Coverage

Amplify press coverage
All too often, you secure some long-awaited press coverage but then fail to make the most of your success. But success breeds success, and press coverage is just the same. Indeed, the more earned press coverage you achieve – the more likely you are to get more.

Follow these #PRthatPays tips and I’ll show you how you can amplify your press coverage and sustain your PR.

  1. Say thanks – keep a record of your press coverage and always say thanks to the journalist or blogger that has taken the time to write about you
  2. Use your press coverage as a hook for your social media to build engagement.  You could also use it as a hook for a talk, workshop or even just a reason to pick up the phone to a client or prospect
  3. Ask the publisher if you can turn the press coverage into a PDF or printed direct mail piece – great for existing clients and new prospects
  4. Share it to boost its reach and impact.  Use coverage in your social media tweetables, creating your own imagery to increase engagement and drive traffic – be visual.  Don’t be afraid to share and promote your press coverage frequently. This will help you get found. Remember, journalists use Google too and your press coverage could come up in their searches when looking for someone to interview and feature
  5. Showcase your coverage in your press kit to further illustrate your credibility as a media spokesperson. You can make your press kit available as a download from your website and share on LinkedIn
  6. Ask yourself – is there still life in the story? Look to adapt, expand on and re-purpose
  7. Use it in award entries, crowdfunding or funding bids to back up your entries and secure support. People like to back a success story
  8. Use to pitch for interviews with your membership body/associations/publications that you are a member of, and seek out blogger/guest blog opportunities too
  9. Add media logos to ‘as seen in’ imagery that can be used across your social media profiles and online. You can get permission from the publisher for featuring logos/mastheads
  10. Build relationships with the journalist that has interviewed you – keep in touch so that when another opportunity presents itself, they know who to call
  11. Utilise press coverage to secure other press interviews and coverage – piggyback on the news agenda using your press coverage to help prove your suitability as an expert spokesperson
  12. Keep track of your coverage to understand its impact on your domain authority, referrals, and even new business
  13. Make sure the press coverage is shared and promoted internally – it can be great for staff morale
  14. Add a link to your press coverage in your email sign-off
  15. Use coverage topics as the basis of more detailed blog posts or social media comments/LinkedIn updates
  16. Get hard copies of press coverage and frame it for your very own coverage wall, showcase in your visitors’ book or on a company celebration wall
  17. Add coverage links to your website bearing in mind copyright rules. Having an online press room can help you secure more press coverage as it illustrates your credibility
  18. Share with clients – send them a link to relevant press coverage or even a hard copy
  19. Showcase coverage in your email newsletter
  20. Film short video pieces or short clips for your YouTube channel, building on the advice you gave in your press coverage, for example.

There you have it: 20 Ways to Amplify your Press Coverage. 

Would you like more #prthatpays tips like these 20 Ways to Amplify your Press Coverage? Please sign up to my PR that Pays newsletter.

Credits

This blog post was inspired by this handy download by Bryony Thomas of Watertight Marketing fame: One Piece of Content 20 Ways to Use it – to really help you squeeze every last drop of value out of your content.

Ellen Carroll

PR champion with a passion for profitable PR and newsworthy content. Setting up Nellie PR in 2007, Ellen has over 20 years’ experience in the PR and marketing industry.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Why being a member is great for PR

Are you a member of an association, membership body or business organisation? If so, did you know your membership could help you secure press coverage, PR opportunities and even more business?

When journalists go a looking for a businesses to interview around specific issues and trends, or comment on the back of the publication of reports or statistics they often go a calling on the likes of the British Chamber of Commerce, FSB, Enterprise Nation and EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, to name a few.

My top #prthatpays tip is to make sure your membership body is aware of you, your story, and knows that you are happy to be interviewed by the press or act as a case study. Build a relationship with its press office and ask to join its mailing list (if they have one) so you get an email when they put the call out for businesses to interview or put themselves forward to provide comment. Don’t forget to follow them on social media especially Twitter where they will also post out PR opportunities and media requests.

Many of the bigger membership bodies and associations also publish their own reports and are frequently interviewed by the press, so need businesses like yours to provide comment and bring their reports to life.

I’m a firm believer that you get out what you put in so take the time to pull together a membership action plan – contribute, share your knowledge and take the time to seek out opportunities such as awards, guest blogging, speaker slots, offer referral and discount codes for its members, and maybe even run a masterclass or two. The opportunities are there – go get them and sustain your PR for the long-term building your reputation and relationships.

You don’t just have to take my word for it:

“We get numerous requests for case studies from all types of media, from the trades through to the national written and broadcast outlets. They are an invaluable resource by which we get important messages across to the public and policymakers about the importance of manufacturing.

“It’s not only about ensuring our important voice is heard, however. We’re aware of a number of instances where companies have gained valuable business from appearing in the media, so it can be a win win for companies themselves and our sector.”

Mark Swift, Head of Communications, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

For more #PRthatPays tips, sign-up to my newsletter.

Credits & More Information:

Background image from Unsplash.

PR that Pays is a PR mentoring programme for PR and comms professionals, business leaders and owners.  Delivered by Ellen Carroll to help you achieve and demonstrate real PR impact on your business.   For more details, visit PR that Pays.

Ellen Carroll

PR champion with a passion for profitable PR and newsworthy content. Setting up Nellie PR in 2007, Ellen has over 20 years’ experience in the PR and marketing industry.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook