Eight Media Pitching Don’ts (And Eight Do This Insteads)

Media pitching is crucial for marketers in any business, whether big or small. However, pitching the media can sometimes be like a real life version of The Hunger Games, where multiple pitfalls and enemies stand in the way of the coverage and publicity your brand needs to thrive.

“Being a new startup business with little budget, striving to balance a full-time job with all of the demands of a growing side business is tough enough,” says Jeff Barber of Primal Gear Unlimited, echoing the feelings of many businesses. “Finding a reporter to do a story about our business or a review of a new and unconventional product seems near impossible.”

But nothing is impossible – especially when you’re properly trained and forewarned about the mistakes and traps you need to avoid. We asked reporters to tell us eight of the biggest dangers — here they are, along with tips to avoid them.

1.       Michael Board, radio reporter

Do this instead: Be cognizant of the reporter’s outlet and pitch accordingly. How would an emailed statement benefit this particular reporter or add any color to his broadcast? Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and think about how you can add value to their story.

2. Sheldon Baker, media writer

Do this instead: When it comes to pitching the media, brevity is your friend.  Keep your pitches to the point and make sure you have a creative hook that will grab the reporter’s attention.

3. Professional pen, copywriting firm

Do this instead: Feel the reporter out and ask them what their preference is in terms of conducting the interview. Remember that reporters are on deadline and don’t have time to put up with the demands of a diva. Accommodate their preferences and not only will you get quoted, but they’ll most likely remember how easy you were to work with and come back to you for a future story.

4. Jena Tesse Fox, editor for Travel Agent Magazine and Luxury Travel Advisor

Do this instead: This is probably one of the easiest tips to implement: do your research. Don’t commit the ultimate sin of sending a generic pitch. Instead, do your research and mold your pitch around the reporter’s outlet and/or beat.

5. Barbara B, reporter

Do this instead: Remember that timing is crucial. If a reporter expresses interest in your pitch, don’t drag your feet. Get them the information necessary as soon as possible. Also, remember the article is not always about you or your brand/client. Usually your expertise is needed to supplement a certain point—don’t try to steal the spotlight.

7. David Moye, reporter for Huffington Post Weird News

Do this instead: Before you pull the trigger and send a pitch in response to a HARO query, make sure you have met all of the guidelines that have been set. If the reporter specifically asks you to include or not to include something, listen.

6. Dave Greenbaum, freelance journalist

Do this instead: Repeat this mantra until it is ingrained in your brain: stay on topic, stay on topic, stay on topic. We can’t stress this enough– pitching off-topic is a mortal sin of media relations. If a reporter’s beat doesn’t fit your area of expertise, for example, don’t pitch. It is as simple as that.

8. Brian Dorf, former editor

Do this instead: Sending a copied-and-pasted press release to a reporter does not make you stand out. When crafting your pitch, think about why the reporter should be interested in what you have to say. How can you offer a unique, relevant angle that will make your story stand out?

Reporters, what other pitching don’ts have we missed? Please share with us in the comments below!

Image via: ell brown (Flickr Commons)



  • http://www.academiclifecoaching.com/ John Andrew Williams

    Love the post! I got lucky a year ago with an article in CNN Money and the front page of Yahoo on how I’m changing education by teaching Life Coaching skills to youth. Since that article, I’ve tried half-heartedly and looking to get back into PR. Your tips are AWESOME and mirror my experience working as a columnist at Newsweek.

  • http://www.helpareporter.com/ Laura Spaventa

    Thank you, John! I’m glad you found the post helpful!