Special report #2 Pitch Your Story to the Media media


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Tips on approaching the media to cover your not for profit story.

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Special report #2 Pitch Your Story to the Media media

  1. 1. Pitch Your Story tothe Media Special Report #2 Maine Street Marketing www.mainestreet.com.au info@mainestreet.com.au 0401 063 387 ©Maine Street Marketing
  2. 2. The power of a pitchMedia releases are passive PR tools.Once they leave your front door, others decide their fate …that’s if they see them amongthe thousands of other media releases that flood Australia’s newsrooms every day.One way to raise the visibility of your issue is to present your case directly to busy mediapeople in a short, sharp, focused but friendly fashion.That’s called pitching and it’s the essence of good media relations.Don’t enjoy pitching?Pitching or directly engaging the media is such a powerful PR tool. Yet few areas teachthese skills. Either you pick them up by trial and error or you are one of the fortunate fewwho has a mentor who generously shares his or her knowledge.Unfortunately many people see pitching a story as one of those hate to but must dothings. Because they are untrained they are nervous about selling their stories. Sowhen it comes time to pick up the phone, they fumble and stumble.That can be avoided by thorough preparation and frequent practice.How can I pitch?• Personally meeting with reporters, producers or editors.• Phoning them.• Emailing them.• Sending a letter.Getting startedNo matter how you pitch you must have a good story to attract a reporter’s attention.You translate your issue into a good story by showing it has one or more of the following:• Strong human interest.• Local slant.• Benefits it gives people.• Links to national or international trends.• Connections to a date in the calendar when particular subjects get reported each year.• The Wow I didn’t know that twist.Firstly fashion your issue into a storyBut before you pitch, get all the material you will need prepared, pre-approved and readyto send to the media. That includes media releases, case studies, images, logos, factsand figures, bio-sheets etc. ©Maine Street Marketing
  3. 3. Who to approachBuild a media database of the publications and programs you intend to approach. Eachentry should show key appointments, deadlines, contact details etc.Check if columnists or reporters at these outlets are blogging. Their blogs can providevaluable insights and help you shape your story to attract their interest.Twice a year ask the advertising departments of major outlets for their editorialcalendars and details of upcoming supplements. These could provide opportunities to fityour story in future editions or programs.Phone pitchingTake the chill out of your next cold call to a reporter by writing out your pitch as a shortstatement.Put the benefits of your story in the first three or four lines of this statement.You want a natural, easy to understand tone on the phone so refine and rehearse thisstatement until you can deliver it conversationally in 30 seconds or less when you firstcontact a newsroom.When you call and a reporter shows interest in your story, finish up by agreeing whatadditional information you will provide and arranging details such as times for interviews,photographs and site visits.If the reporter is not interested, don’t argue because they know what works for theiraudience. Politely thank them for their time and quickly move to your next call.Email a pitchPitching by email is not as effective as a phone call because it lacks the personal touch.And it is just too easy for the person at the other end to delete your email. Howeversometimes emailing is your only option.Start by writing the subject line in the same way you would write a headline in a mediarelease. Write it so it gains attention.Keep the body of the email short and sharp so it can be viewed on a single screen. Putthe benefits of your story right up front in the email.Finish by stating that you will follow-up the email with a phone call. ©Maine Street Marketing
  4. 4. Pitch by postProvided you have the time, pitching by letter is a great way to go.When a reporter receives your story idea by letter they have the chance to consider it attheir leisure. It also means you avoid the nervousness most of us feel when we callsomeone we don’t know.A letter pitch should be one page or less:• The first paragraph shows you know the publication or program and the interests of the audience.• The second paragraph identifies your story and if possible includes attention grabbing statistics or a mini case study.• The third paragraph suggests how you can add a visual dimension to your issue ie images, graphs, pie charts etc that could accompany the story.• The fourth paragraph contains your contact details and how you intend to follow-up the letter.Three qualities for perfect pitching• Persistence is king. You will get knock backs from the media especially when you first start out. Keep going and learn from each encounter.• Preparation. The more you prepare for each media pitch the more likely you will succeed.• Humour. If you are not enjoying it, you must be doing it wrong. Be relaxed and learn to enjoy the pitching process. ©Maine Street Marketing