How to distinguish your pitches from spam-like approach while dealing with journalists?

How often have we come across this situation as public relations professionals when we are discouraged of our story pitches to the media as if they are spams? In some cases, often, and in some cases not so often. But I am sure most of us have gone through this many times while pitching stories, features, interviews, etc., during our stints in public relations firms or corporate communication roles.

Journalists and their story chasing crazy deadlines, researching, fact-finding, investigating, verifying, interviewing, etc. always creates a scarcity of time and keeps them on the move all the time. With hundreds of firms and their team members approaching almost every journalist every day with some or the other news makes their attention meagre to pitches or any communication from us. 

I know many of my friends in media receiving as many as 300-400 emails every day and most of them are welcomed only by the ‘delete’ button on their keyboards. Unless the email is from a known source or the subject sounds interesting, it is likely to head to the trash bin in most of the cases.  Even if the mail is being read, what immediately matters is the news angle and the story idea. 

How strong are the story ideas and the news peg allows one to decide to explore it further? Is it something new or one of the repeated stuff that’s already been covered? If the news has been covered by most of the media, have they left out this new angle? Is the story peg relevant enough to be highlighted for the benefit of the readers? Will this angle offer significant breakthrough to the developing story or will it just pad up little with of information to what’s been floating around? Is it worth making some news? 

Most of the journalists will try to find answers to these questions, before considering your pitch. And for processing this information on each of your pitches they will have too little of a time. If these inputs aren’t satisfactory and they don’t appeal to their minds within a few moments of looking at your story pitch, it will be considered another spam. Question is how can we avoid our communication becoming spam and make it hit the right note with them?

First and foremost, we can ensure that our story is relevant. It is relevant to the media, relevant to the readers, relevant to the current context & contemporary happenings, and relevant to developing & breaking news stories, and so on and so forth. Next, we need to ensure that enough content is available for the media to consider and bring out the novelty element of the story for their readers/viewers. Your pitch note should have enough data points for the journalists to be able to churn out something new and create an interesting analysis. If the pitch note carries proper background, supported with a lot of data, chances are high that you will get a positive response. 

Often, we pitch ‘exclusive’ news to the media, but remember the news truly must be exclusive. Exclusive in terms of only sharing with one of the specific media it doesn’t work if the content is not exclusive. A large number of professionals, make this mistake. Exclusivity also comes with unique content, breaking news, big development on a current story, or release of some source-based but authentic inputs to the media. And then there can be content that is ‘non-exclusive’ but highly relevant from the perspective of a larger audience and media may open to cover if it fits in their scheme of things, they will readily accept it.

Usually, research and data are always of paramount significance in any story. If the story pitch contains data points that are recent, authentic, detailed, and are not already available in the public domain, journalists will most likely pursue your story pitch.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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