Ninety-three percent of journalists prefer to receive pitches by email, according to Cision’s State of the Media 2016 Report. But with so many brands emailing pitches in the hopes of getting coverage, reporters’ inboxes are getting crowded, and most brands’ messages are getting lost in the clutter.
To get their stories covered, communication professionals need to make their brand, their pitches and themselves stand out.
At his recent Cision webinar, “The New Rules of Media Pitching,” pitching coach Michael Smart shared his tips for getting reporters to not only read your pitches, but respond to them as well.
While this is just the tip of the iceberg in landing coverage for your brand, these five of Michael’s tips will get you started and help you get better results from your media outreach:
1. Get on reporters’ radar
If reporters recognize your name on an email, they will be more likely to read and answer your pitch. But Michael says you need to start building the relationship before you even have a story.
Use your media database to identify the best contacts to target. Then, start engaging them online by sharing their posts and commenting on their stories.
This tactic warms up your cold emails, so you’re no longer shooting in the dark. Instead, you’re directing your stories to the reporters who will be the most likely to cover them.
2. Find emerging outlets
The big media outlets, like HuffingtonPost, USA Today and the NY Times, while they get tons of visitors and traffic, may not always be the best outlets to target.
You need to find the outlets that are popular in your specific industry and keep an eye out for ones that may be new and gaining traction. Getting coverage in those publications may be easier to do, and it could be more valuable to your brand.
Michael recommends using your media database to find these outlets, and refreshing your media lists at least quarterly to stay up to date.
3. Pitch interesting content
A reporter isn’t going to cover a story that they aren’t interested in. If your company news is dull or lackluster, convincing them can sometimes be a challenge.
Michael says the solution for getting boring news covered is to be creative. One way to do this is to combine it with something that is interesting, but may not be newsworthy on its own.
For example, when Aflac wanted to share news of their recent donation to pediatric cancer research, they made the story more interesting by combining it with a pre-existing NASCAR sponsorship to create a contest called Color Carl’s Car. The contest resulted in coverage from CBS, ESPN and more.
4. Bulk up your news
Brands just like yours are also looking for media coverage, and sometimes, if you can combine forces with them, you’ll increase your chances of getting featured.
Michael calls this the “contrarian HARO hack.” Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is typically used by journalists to find sources for their pieces and for communication professionals to respond to requests and offer their expertise.
But communication professionals can flip the model around and send out their own requests. This way, they can solicit input from other brands and gather them together to create a stronger pitch.
5. Customize your pitches
Reporters want you to know who they are and what they do before you pitch them. If you’re sending the same generic, cookie-cutter pitch, they’re going to see right through it and ignore you.
You need to do your research ahead of time to understand which reporters are the right ones to pitch and why your story would benefit them.
“If you take extra time upfront to customize your pitches, you increase not just the quality of your coverage, but the quantity too,” Michael says.
Once you have a solid relationship with a reporter, you can continue to reach out to them when you have relevant news. Since they’ve worked with you in the past, they will probably cover your news again.