We all know that feeling when you write the perfect pitch hoping to gain great media coverage, but never hear back from the reporters that you reach out to. Before you get too excited and send your pitch to everyone in your contacts, be sure to follow these steps for building a successful media list.
What actions are you hoping your audience will do after they receive your email? Make sure that your product or client is clearly represented in the pitch as well as your intentions for the pitch. This can be anything from a new product launch, an exclusive interview, or an invitation to a social event. The last thing you want is for your recipient to read your email and think “so what?”
Reporters, bloggers, and editors receive hundreds or thousands of emails a day. Naturally, they are unable to read every email. However, by personalizing your email and including a unique and relevant title, your chances of receiving a reply are much higher. After perfecting your pitch, make sure that you research your recipient’s interests. Read some of their recent articles and gauge what topics excite them. It is also important to differentiate between their roles.
- Magazines: Always try to pitch editors before anyone else. If possible, find editors that are assigned to your client’s topic, whether it’s food or travel etc. Pitching anyone higher than the editor level will be less successful because they tend to handle logistics instead of content creation. If you are able to identify freelance writers who write for magazines, pitching to them will be extremely beneficial. If they are interested in your topic, they may even write about it on the other various publications that they contribute to.
- Broadcast: If you have breaking news to pitch to TV stations, contact their news desk as soon as possible in order to get your story out in a timely matter. If your pitch is not urgent, watch past news reports to figure out if there is a reporter who specifically handles your interest and reach out to them.
- Newspaper: Make sure that you research the staff directory for newspapers in order to match reporters to your interest. It helps to read their job descriptions and interests in order to choose the right recipient. Also, do not pitch your product to the editor-in-chief or the executive editor as they rarely take care of pitch decisions.
Before taking a deep dive into the Internet to find journalists or reporters interested in your product, make sure that you utilize the available resources to help you make the most out of your time. HARO and ProfNet are two free resources that connect journalists to sources. After subscribing to these services, you will receive several emails a day, allowing you to identify and directly reach out to writers who are interested in your product. Cision is the largest PR database in the world, allowing you to search for journalists and writers from all different publications. Muck Rack is a similar resource, linking you to journalists and their social media contacts as well as their recent stories. Lastly, as social media becomes more prevalent than ever, the process of reaching out to journalists is much easier. If you do not have access to paid resources like Cision and Muck Rack, try researching journalists interested in your product and locating them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or their personal websites. Their contact information and interests are often listed on their social media profiles.
If your pitch is time sensitive, you should be checking editorial calendars and upcoming holidays in order to decide on a prime time to reach out to journalists and reporters. Usually, online outlets and newspaper outlets have a shorter turnaround time, which means that you should be pitching a couple weeks in advance of your desired publishing date. Print publications have a longer turnaround time, which means that you should be planning months in advance in order to place your product in the outlets. Make sure that you leave enough time for the writers to develop your pitch and integrate it into their upcoming pieces, but also do not pitch too early.
In order to make life easier for yourself, make sure that your media list is always organized and up to date. Journalists and editors often switch roles or move between companies, making it an additional task for you to track their new emails and keep your list up to date. Also, a lot of contributing writers are freelancers, meaning that they write for multiple outlets. It is useful to go through your email list and check for duplicate emails so that you don’t pitch to the same person multiple times.