Get your story out there: how to write a media pitch in 2021
Knowing how to write a media pitch in the ever-changing media environment we live in is no easy task. You know you’ve got a great story, and you’ve thought through your angle, but you’re having no luck getting the media to bite. What’s the key? Pull up a chair and we’ll give you a rundown on the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos when you’re pitching to the media.
The shifting media environment
Traditionally, journalists, and the media industry more broadly, operated to a strict schedule. There were filing deadlines and printing times, and it all had to happen according to plan. That is unless you wanted your story to miss the crucial morning run. The Internet, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle were long-off inventions that hadn’t yet disrupted society’s source of news and entertainment either. But that has all changed, and changed dramatically—even more so with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Where journalists once had hours to plan and write a story, they now have minutes. Everything runs to the instant and there’s no more waiting till printing time to file a story for it to be as up-to-date as possible. The advent of Twitter means news organisations are pumping out breaking headlines with “more to come” as the article body so as to catch the initial momentum of clicks and eyeballs.
This means everything is turned up to eleven with sensationalism driving the news and journalists needing ‘sexy’ angles to power their stories. So how do we write a media pitch for this new, high-octane environment? Here are a few key tips:
- Find the right home for the right story
With clicks and eyes the leading metric, it’s important to consider where your story belongs. Journalists and editors want and need content that’s going to drive engagement for their site and advertisers. Is it a high-level story that requires longer-form writing? Or, is it something light and easy that belongs on a mass-news site like news.com.au? Once you’ve established which channel, write your pitch in a way that appeals to its audience. Getting this right will deliver greater success—for your brands and for the journalist.
- Keep it short and sweet
Not only is time more constrained than ever, journalists are facing the dual challenge of operating amidst budget cuts and ever-increasing scope creep. You’ll find some journalists are both writing and filming their stories! So, be succinct. Think elevator pitch-level succinct. You need to convey the crux of your story and get straight to it. According to Elevate’s in-house media advisor, Chris Garry, an attached media release sometimes isn’t even looked at—dropping the content straight into the body of the email is preferred!
- Think relationship first, story second
Pitching a story to the media is as much about the story as it is about the relationship. Building strong relationships within the industry is crucial. Chris puts it this way: “You want the journalist to get excited when your number appears on their phone”. You can grow these relationships through simple things like getting lunch together, building an understanding of what sorts of stories they’re looking for, providing exciting and interesting pitches, and even giving exclusivity for certain stories. When you have a working relationship, getting your stories across the line will come far easier.
- Sound genuine
Sincerity and genuine interest in your pitch is the key to success. Multi-tasking while pitching, or simply delivering a rehearsed spiel is going to result in a failed pitch. More often than not, a journalist or media representative will know you aren’t fully involved and will lose interest. Being present, engaged, and passionate about your story is crucial, conveying that in a way that’s attractive, interesting, and most of all beneficial to the journalist is a must.
Time is down, pressure is up
As newsrooms get shallower and journalists are required to produce more from less, knowing how to write a media pitch that’s convincing and attractive is becoming more important. Remember, most journalists are looking for those easy yet engaging stories they can turn out quickly. Focus on the above approaches while building strong working relationships and delivering successful pitches for your clients will come easy.
If you’re looking for further training on media pitches, or wish to work with an agency to get your stories out to the world, Elevate is ready to help! Reach out to us at any time to find out how we can be of assistance.