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How to Craft a News Pitch: THEPRBAR Agency Approach
3 Steps to crafting an effective news pitch
Publicists and PR-savvy entrepreneurs all know the value of public relations (PR) and press. It’s a way for businesses to communicate with their customers, build brand awareness, and increase credibility – all especially important in today’s social media-driven world. But for those who are not in the PR industry, understanding where or how to go about getting press can be an intimidating process. Good news – THEPRBAR Agency is ready to help!
A large portion of earned media coverage is inspired by what we call a pitch. A new pitch is a short and sweet email that is sent to reporters and editors at media outlets with the goal of getting a story or piece of timely news published. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business (or your client’s business), explain what makes your story or news unique, and tell them why they should cover it. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a PR expert or journalist to create an effective pitch. With that in mind, we are sharing THEPRBAR Agency’s three-step approach to crafting a news pitch that will get you featured.
Step 1: Create a custom media list tailored to the specific news pitch you are sending.
It’s an exciting and often nerve-wracking time when you send a news pitch in the hopes of being published or featured. But before you hit send on that email, take a step back and make sure you’re sending your pitch to the right person. You should be intentionally creating a media list that is hyper-targeted to reach the contacts best suited and likely to cover the beat or topic of your news pitch. Some of these contacts might live on an existing list, and some might be new — but at THEPRBAR Agency we always compile a unique list for each angle or campaign.
In our experience, taking a selective “quality over quantity approach” is much more effective than just blasting a generic pitch out to the media at large. To summarize, Step 1 in THEPRBAR Agency’s approach is curating a new and specific media list of relevant contacts for each angle and news pitch.
Step 2: Brainstorm angles for your news pitch based on the contacts selected.
When you send a news pitch, it’s important to do your research and figure out what the journalist and their audience want to hear. In order to do this, you need to first determine what the journalist’s beat is — that is, what topics he or she covers on a regular basis. Beyond that, it’s important to pay attention to the types of stories a given contact produces (more on that here) and their given role in the hierarchy of the outlet they work for. Are they an editor or staff writers, for example? Knowing this information will enable you to brainstorm relevant angles for your news pitch. Pro tip: You can find out a reporter’s beat for free by looking at their author or byline page on an outlet’s website or checking the masthead or newsroom directory.
Once you have a sense of what the reporter covers, brainstorm some possible angles that would be relevant to his or her beat. Based on which contacts are selected, we suggest then further shaping the story into something even more targeted and relevant to that individual. For example, if you are pitching a story to an editor at a general business news publication, it might be helpful to connect your angle to a new and relevant industry report. If you are pitching a story about how millennials are changing the workplace to a writer at a tech publication, and you’re a Director of HR at a Tech company, consider pitching yourself as an expert source that can contribute to the topic at hand. As a general rule, the more targeted and relevant your pitch is, the better.
Step 3: Draft a separate news pitch for each journalist.
You’ve done your research, and now you have a list of journalists that you want to reach out to. But how do you actually pitch them? When crafting your news pitch, we suggest asking yourself these core set of questions:
- Who, what, where, when, and…WHY?
- Why should this specific journalist care about your story or news?
- Why will the journalist’s outlet and its readership care about this story; how will it serve them?
- Why you and why this story over another?
All of those questions should be answered in a sufficient email. While it’s tempting to send a mass email for the sake of saving time, if you answer the questions above you’ll realize that personalizing each individual news pitch is key. Additional food for thought: Journalists nowadays can typically tell when a pitch is not personalized and is being sent to the masses – and who wants to cover the same angle as everyone else?
At THEPRBAR Agency we intentionally craft the language and structure of a news pitch to best fit the contact being pitched, tailoring our approach according to the outlet’s target audience and interests. For example, if we’re pitching a niche industry outlet, we might include more industry-specific language. If we’re going after a larger-scale story, we might include context or background beyond just our client to help illustrate the angle’s newsworthiness. Learn more of our specific pitching dos and don’ts here.
The days of having one news pitch for every outlet and reporter are over.
To stand out in a journalist’s inbox and ultimately land coverage, you have to create a news pitch that speaks to the specific person on the other end of the inbox. The key takeaway from this is to take the time to research each reporter and news source that you’re pitching to. Find out what their interests are and what specific content they tend to cover, and then work your angle and craft your news pitch around what you’ve learned. Remember, quality over quantity.
Meghen earned her B.A. in Mass Communications from Louisiana State University Shreveport and her MS in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of New Orleans. With over five years of experience in communications, she is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and the food and beverage industries. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, exploring new restaurants, and traveling. She is currently residing in Washington D.C., making THEPRBAR inc. offices officially bicoastal!