How to target the pitch?

Media relations being one of the most important parts of our profession today, is equally intriguing and challenging when it comes to execution. Most of us interact with media day in and day out to get them to listen to us, our clients, our stories. We reach out via email or a phone call pitching our stories to them hoping that they will get interested and consider covering it. Sometimes, it goes very smooth, and our story ideas are picked up well and we see instant results in stories, while many times the story ideas aren’t well-received, and we hit a blank.

Well, journalists receive hundreds of emails, press releases, story pitches every day and they have too little time to decide on which story to pick up. Poorly written pitches may stand a chance to get neglected much easily as the journalists don’t see stories in those pitches.

First and foremost, the story pitches need to be relevant to the newspaper, to the beat being covered by the journalist, to the readers of that specific media to get attention. Also, in the current context, the story pitch needs to be relevant for the media to cover it.

Next is the topicality or timing of the story is important. If there is a global or local development that has the potential to impact the common public or specific target audiences for that matter, media will be interested to look at it. Mostly, all media will be covering that topic, and as long as the issue is relevant media interest will be alive, so if your story is in perfect timing with this issue or incident, it will be easily picked up.

Newsworthiness is the next factor that is most critical for any media. Is your story making some news for the readers of the publication will be a key thought running in the journalist’s mind? If your story has a natural news element, it will be picked up surely without much of your persuasion.

Another factor that often we public relations professionals forget while pitching our stories to the media. Many of us simply dump voluminous information running into pages of text to the journalists. It works against their scheme of things as they are always running against time chasing strict deadlines for filing stories. So, keeping the story pitch brief, accurate, factual, and simple, that connects well with the idea is bound to receive a prompt response from them.

A good news peg or the key story idea can always be a starting point followed by suggesting the action that you’d like the journalist to take. Whether you are looking for an email interaction, telephonic interaction, or a face-to-face meeting, can be communicated in brief. Of course, you need to showcase also as what is the takeaway for the publication from this and how its readers or viewers will stand to benefit.

One more often ignored practice is when the same pitch is shared with too many journalists, where many are not even relevant journalists. A hardcore news story pitch may never need to land into the mailbox of a weekend feature writer and vice versa. It only puts off the journalists when they receive something that they can’t cover.

It’s also advisable to have good research about the journalists you may want to approach by reading their stories regularly, following them on Twitter and other social media where they interact actively. It will give you a better sense of judgment while preparing your story pitch and chances of seeing them rejected will reduce.

A little bit of personalised approach with proper context, relevance, content, and timeliness can simply create wonders in your story pitches.

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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