Ward to the Wise

Break Through The Clutter: Four Tips to Get Your Media Pitches Noticed

Break Through The ClutterHas this ever happened to you? You spend hours crafting THE pitch of all pitches to get your client or company noticed. You hit the send button and zoom…off it goes to your target media outlets. You wait…and wait…and wait. Hmmmm. No response. After the shock and awe wears off you realize no one cared about what you had to say.

What a harsh truth and waste of valuable time.

On average, reporters and editors receive hundreds of pitches per day. Yes, that many people are vying for their attention on a daily basis and notifications are flying in over multiple channels: email, phone, social media, in-person briefings, tweets, etc. Reporters are working with limited resources, are under tight deadlines and have ZERO time to waste reading pitches that don’t tell them what they need to evaluate the newsworthiness of your angle in just seconds.

Use these four tips in the pitch development process to effectively break through the clutter and get a reporter or editor to perk up and respond.

1. Know Your Target….and Their Audience.

This tip never gets old. Always, always identify your target audience before you even think about sending in a pitch. Research the media outlet and beat reporter. Is it a fit? Will your story idea be of interest to the reporter and their audience? Does their audience include the level of influencer you are trying to reach? Do they have an editorial calendar containing similar topics that are mapped out for publication over the year? What has been their related coverage on your topic? If you answered no to any of these questions, chances are the writer or editor won’t be interested and you’re going straight to the trash bin.

2. Get to the Point, Right Away.

Be sincere in your outreach and grab their attention right away on the issue or topic you would like to address with the reporter immediately. They know you obviously want something from them, so make your request count. Introduce your topic as relevant, yet impactful for the media outlet’s audience needs. Don’t lead with flattery, fluff or use marketing terminology or your in-house jargon – cut to the chase. A couple of sentences on why your particular angle is right for their audience at this time is enough. (You might hint at why not telling this story would create risk for their audience, which relies on them for insight and education.)

3. Pitch a News Story, Not a Company.

Offer a story angle, not a sales pitch. Solid media pitches only reference the company as a credible source for the expertise required to educate their audience on the topic being pitched. While most companies yearn for glowing profiles proclaiming their success, editors view such content as appropriate for their advertising department, unless the company’s success story demonstrates the effects of an industry trend or growth opportunity. Focus on offering a story angle that’s insightful, solution-driven and educational for the target audience, especially if the topic reveals an industry solution to a pressing and costly issue.

Offer company executives as available contributors and subject matter experts on the topic for the reporter or editor. Propose they assist the media outlet with content creation. Believe it or not, many reporters or editors will jump at an offer like this. You’ll end up controlling the message and positioning your company as a thought leader. Bravo. Done right, business leads can result from these published pieces, and your current customers will feel validated in their choice to use your company.

4. Back It Up.

If your proposed story angle revolves around a solutions-based topic, present a brief example for the reporter or editor on how a challenge was met successfully using it. This reference provides instant validation for your company and makes the solution more credible. Testimonials and examples are very strong selling points and will further help the media outlet answer the big question, “What’s in it for my audience?” when they are considering your pitch. Make it your job to answer that question. And remember, you are competing for that precious space with many proven sources who’ve long invested in gaining editors’ trust.

Now What?

Once you have sent the pitch, realistically there are two ways this can go.

The first: “thank you, we are interested.” (Hurrah!) If your proposed story angle is something the media outlet chooses to pursue, protect all the hard work put into the effort by making sure to supply excellent support and content to the media outlet. Media does not have time for people who let them down. So don’t. Prove your worth, follow through on your quality deliverable, on deadline, and enjoy the outcome.

The second: “thank you, but we are not interested at this time.” Respect their decision, but don’t be afraid to simply ask why not and use the opportunity to have an educational conversation with the reporter or editor on what is currently top of their mind. You will likely gain insight that will lead to a better story angle for a future pitch. At Ward, we cheer every yes we get, and every no too because every no means we are one step closer to the yes we seek. Be clear you will likely get a great deal more no’s than yeses so zip up your thick-skin suit and keep at it. PR is not for the faint of heart.

As Ward’s clients can attest, by following the aforementioned tips in the pitch process, you will break through the clutter and be well on your way to fostering trusted, valuable media relationships with the goal to collaborate on angles you generate as well as ones the editor has in mind.

If you’d like to cause better communication through your outreach efforts to media outlets that influence your key audiences, but aren’t sure how or don’t have the resources internally, contact us and let Ward show you how to get the results you seek. Results are within your reach!

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