Pitch It Perfectly: How to Get a Story on the News in 7 Easy Steps

It’s getting harder and harder to get the attention of the media. Newspapers are shutting down and there are fewer and fewer outlets. Reporters are swamped with pitches and do not have time to follow up on the majority of them.

There are ways to get the attention of a journalist looking for stories. You have to make reporters’ lives easier by giving them what they need.

Here are seven tips for how to get a story in the news 

1. Get the Hook 

A typical news writer will get hundreds of emails a day. You have to grab his attention immediately.

Put a hook in the subject line of your email. Give them a reason to open it. Leverage the news of the day and relate your product or service to it. 

A hook must be timely and different. You can’t use a story that dominated the headlines last week. 

It’s best if you can anticipate the news: what is coming down the pike? Reporters like trend stories or information that will help them cover an upcoming issue or event.

2. The Five “W”s

Give your reader the essential facts, or the five “w”s. They need to know who, what, where, when, and why.

Ideally, all of those details should go right into the first paragraph of your pitch. Many reporters will not read any further. 

Every story needs these five pieces of information. Don’t end your pitch out without a “who:” reporters want to know who is the spokesperson, or the face of the story.

Your “w”s must also have a relation to the reporter you are targeting. Don’t pitch the editor of a newspaper based in Los Angeles a story based in Cincinnati. Don’t email a political reporter a press release about a new brand of cookies. 

3. Quotes 

A reporter will not include your effusive language about your product, no matter how beautifully you craft it. The press resists “market-speak”.

However, they will include statements included in your PR if you attribute them to someone with authority. So you can include a quote by your CEO,  if you have their permission.

You can also include testimonials by third parties, like reviewers.

When you include a quote, a reporter will assume they have the right to use it and you have vetted it thoroughly and obtained all necessary permissions. They may run it verbatim, or they may want to speak directly to the person. Make sure you include a way to contact them.

Link the name of the person you reference in the press release to their company bio or LinkedIn page. The writer may want to check them out to see their qualifications to comment on the subject of your pitch. 

4. Photos and Attachments 

Often a pitch is a short email appended to a press release. Do reporters a favor: do not include the release as an attachment. Anything that requires extra clicks, or could slow down their program, may be ignored.

If your company has a service for posting their press releases submission online,  include a link to your release on that site that in your email.

Reporters will want images to accompany the story as well. Many no longer have staff photographers. You can link to headshots of your major players or include your preferred images in the body of an email.

It’s always best to include a picture that you would like to represent your good or service. Otherwise, if they do run your story, they will choose a photo for you. They may find an old photo online that your company’s president does not like. 

5. Be Brief 

No press release needs to run longer than one page. Few readers get beyond the first few paragraphs. One of the most important tips for how to get in the news is to be concise.

Often you must include a lot of information in order to satisfy different partners in your company or transaction. Everyone wants their quote and their bio included.

However, if the story is long or complicated, the reporter will do the research herself.

That’s why you need to get all the pertinent information into the first paragraph. Do not, as they say in journalism, “bury the lead.” Do not make the media search for critical information that you have handy.

6. Contact Information 

Nothing is worse for a member of the media than getting hooked by a pitch and then not knowing how to follow up. You must include the contact phone number and email address, plus any social media handles for platforms like Twitter. 

If you are lucky and skillful enough to catch someone’s eye, you want them to be able to reach you immediately for their follow up questions.

You should also always pick up your phone if you are the contact. Don’t expect a reporter to leave a message; they may be on to the next story. 

Don’t expect a reporter to wait until the end of the day either. Anyone you are offering up as a press contact must be immediately available. Most press people hate being asked to wait and will be unlikely to stay tuned for a callback unless you are extremely important to them. 

7. Why Should We Care? 

Every pitch must pass the “why should I care?” test. 

Great, you have a new brand of toothpaste on the market. 

A new VP was named to your company. So what? 

On the other hand, say your new toothpaste prevents cavities and tastes like candy- so both moms and kids love it. That’s a reason to care!

Your new VP comes from a Fortune 500 company and is committed to bringing enhanced diversity to your organization. That’s newsworthy!

The press wants to bring important news to their readers or viewers that will help their audiences.  If you give them the information that their audiences will appreciate, the press will appreciate you.

How to Get a Story in the News: Make It Easy for The Media

If you really want to know how to get a story in the news,  put yourself in the reporters’ shoes. They want to know quickly and succinctly what your story is and why their readers should know about it. If you present them with the information they need to know without a lot of fuss and bother, they will appreciate your efficiency and responsiveness.

For more tips on promoting and succeeding in your business, keep checking back. 

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