How to Get a Journalist’s Attention

Are you having trouble getting media attention? Follow my “dos” and “don’t’s” to ensure your media pitch doesn’t end up deleted.

For any business, big or small, media coverage can be priceless. The reach and power of a good media story can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet, many of my clients and even some of my PR colleagues have struggled with getting and keeping a journalist’s attention.

Over the years I’ve worked with reporters from The Atlantic, Forbes, The New York Times, and many other popular magazines and newsrooms. Below I’m sharing three of my top tips for getting a journalist’s attention and landing a successful media story.

Make your pitch relevant
While your goal is promotion and air time for your product, company or service, that is not the goal of a journalist. Reporters need an angle – something fresh, attention grabbing and thought provoking. Why will their readers be interested in your pitch? Is there a current trend you can tie your story to? Know what’s going on in the media and the broader social trends linked to your story. If someone has already written about your topic, chances are a journalist won’t be interested. Be creative and consider if you have a controversial or unique approach to your product or service. For inspiration, check out this story on “Orgasmic Meditation” I pitched Women’s Health.

Ditch the press release
As news rooms continue to shrink, editors are increasingly using content straight from the source. If you have video, images, an infographic or live-stream content, include these assets in your pitch. Keep your pitch short, but provide links and attachments to any other rich media content you have. While top reporters will write their own stories, this content helps sell your pitch. If a newsroom is looking to fill a web page, dynamic digital content will help your pitch stand out from the pack. More and more I see top broadcasters – CNN, CBC, BBC – use video content directly from their sources. Remember, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Know your journalists
I can’t emphasize this enough. While the obvious first step is to know which journalists specialize in writing about your industry, product or service, it’s just as important to know details about each specific journalist. What are the last few pieces they wrote about? What are their main interests? Who are their target audiences? What is their writing style? Building long-lasting relationships with journalists is vital. If you deliver great story content and follow through when they need you, you will be on their list to call when they need a spokesperson or contact for their next story.

A last thought…
If your pitch is successful remember that you have only completed half the battle. Now it’s time for the reporter to put the story together. It goes without saying that when you are working with a journalist you must be responsive. When a journalist is on a deadline they can’t wait for you or your spokesperson – frankly they don’t care about internal politics or other project deadlines you have. If you have a journalist’s attention you need to keep it, or your they might kill the story, or worse yet, publish it without you.

Looking for more media tips? Send me your questions below and check out some of my recent media wins here.