with contributions from Scott Brodbeck, ARLnow.com; Greg
Hamilton, Arlington Magazine; Gregg Micklos, All News 99.1 WNEW; and Jennifer Nycz-Conner, The Washington Business Journal
Every business and organization wants to
increase their earned media placement and gain exposure to the community. The
question is, with all of the competition vying for attention from media, how do
you get your news noticed and picked up by the press?
The Chamber’s Communications Council
recently hosted “Back to Basics: How to Pitch to the Media” where four local
journalists provided their advice for pitching. Attendees absorbed valuable
information from Scott Brodbeck, Founder and Editor of ARLnow.com, Greg
Hamilton, Founder and Publisher of Arlington Magazine, Gregg Micklos, News
Director for CBS Radio All News 99.1 WNEW, and Jennifer Nycz-Conner, Assistant
Managing Editor for The Washington Business Journal. Below are some of the key
takeaways the panelists provided for businesses and nonprofits who have news to
share with the media.
12 Tips for Pitching to the Media
- Do your homework. Take the time to understand the media outlet you
are pitching. Know what type of stories they typically cover, who their
audience is, how often they publish/broadcast, etc. Also make sure you
know what type of media outlet you are pitching to. Don’t say the
story will make great visuals when you’re pitching to a radio station.
- Find out if the outlet serves a specific
geographic area. The story may
be interesting, but if it is outside an outlet's circulation area, they
are not going to cover it.
- Know who to approach. Take the time to find out whom to pitch your
story to. With larger media outlets, there will often be beat reporters
who focus on a specific topic. For broadcast, a news director or assignment
editor is typically the best contact.
- Ask about lead or cycle times. Is there a better time of the day, week, month,
etc. to approach a media outlet with a story idea? It's ok to call and
ask. Keep in mind that monthly publications have longer lead times, so
they will need your news further in advance than weekly/daily news outlets.
- Be timely.
Don’t wait to send your news until you’ve hired a PR firm, created an
18-page press release, etc. Get them the news quickly and succinctly.
- Why will readers care? Before making the pitch, think about why the
readers/listeners/viewers will care about the story. Make sure you’re
pitching a story that will interest their audience.
- Email first. A follow up call is okay, just be aware it can get busy during
breaking news or near publication time. An editor/reporter may have a very
short period of time to talk, so be concise.
- Skip the attachments and formal releases. A few simple paragraphs about what’s happening
and why they should care along with good contact information works best.
Attached press releases might not be opened.
- Include interesting tidbits. What makes your story unique? Include facts,
stats, trends, figures, quotes, etc. that will help make your story
interesting, credible, and stand out from others.
- Offer sources. If approaching a media outlet with a well-developed
story idea, make sure to offer contacts to provide sources for the story.
More importantly, make sure those contacts will be available when the
reporter reaches out to you.
- Don't waste a reporter or editor's
time. Editorial staff are often
working under tight deadlines, so be as prepared as possible when making a
- Most importantly, remember that the
job of a media outlet is to serve their audience, not the businesses/organizations who want their
news published. The press wants to know what is going on in the community
and they want to hear from you, but the news they cover is for the benefit
of their readers/listeners/viewers. Present your news to media contacts in
a way that shows how relevant and interesting your story will be for their