It’s a cutthroat business pitching to journalists. If they like what you have to say, you might hear back from them immediately, but if all you receive is radio silence that lasts longer than a day or two… well, sorry. Your pitch probably didn’t make the cut, and you have some damage control to do.
Journalists are busy people – busier than ever these days as newsroom resources are squeezed – and simply don’t have the time to meticulously read every single email. So, what can you do to earn their attention?
Following up after sending a press release or pitch might feel a little awkward sometimes, but too bad! It’s a necessary step to ensuring you land your story, and if you approach your follow-up in the right way, you’ll pique the journalist’s interest:
The journalist in question might have ignored or deleted your email (don’t take it personally) so it’s important to follow-up with the all the relevant information at hand – including anything that might not have been present in your original pitch. Keep track of the reporter’s recent articles to find out what they are currently writing about, and come up with an original angle based off relevant and recent trends. This will make you stand out, and the journalist is more likely to appreciate the extra effort.
Be familiar with your client
If you want your pitch to land, you have to understand your client’s business inside and out. The journalist will decide whether they’re worth covering or not, and you’ve got to make them look good by being able to answer all questions (within reason or limitations set by the client) in order to lock down that interview. While the details you share with the journalist will vary depending on the publication, having a solid idea of your client’s business model, revenue (if that’s public information), and top leadership will greatly help you.
Make it personal
One of the biggest reasons pitches get declined is the lack of personalisation and a lazy, sweeping approach that journos can spot a mile away. Journalists receive dozens of emails in a day from businesses who claim to be interesting – but how is your client really interesting to their readers and why should they care? Deliver stories that are new and relevant to their target audience. Understand what that particular journalist covers and is interested in, and consider a new angle that your client might slot nicely into.
Don’t call multiple times
While waiting for a response can be nerve-wracking, resist the urge to call multiple times, spam their inboxes, or hunt them down on social media. An initial follow-up soon after sending a pitch is fine to make sure they’ve received it, but then let some time pass (ideally 2-3 days) before chasing again. Don’t be clingy and desperate – no one likes that.
Find the right time
Journalists like to be pitched to in the morning (between 9am and 11am, or earlier) because that’s the best time for them to decide what they will be working on for the day, and present it to their editors during news meetings. Remember, you’re not the only one under pressure to create a story.
Need help crafting your next pitch? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!