Feb 08, 2015 / by Teresa Dankowski

(Note: This post was updated on 7/20/21.)

Successful pitching can lead to earned media placements, brand awareness among your target audience and, ultimately, sales. But in order to be successful, you need to properly research and vet your media list to find the outlets most relevant to your story.

Here are four things to know about a media outlet before you pitch:

1. Topics covered

You won’t earn a media placement unless your story falls within an outlet’s coverage. There’s no sense in pitching a butcher shop to a blog dedicated to vegetarian recipes, or a political candidate to a podcast that covers art criticism. Make sure your story fits the topics, style and scope of the outlet. This also means knowing whether a media outlet covers those topics from a trade or consumer perspective.

2. Target audience

Target Audience - Pitching Tips

You might have a newsworthy story about baseball, but there’s a big difference between pitching Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated Kids. Keep the demographics and psychographics of your audience in mind when crafting your message and building your media lists. Your story won’t reach your intended audience unless you target outlets that cater to them.

3. Geographical focus

Be mindful of whether an outlet covers news and features on the national, regional, local or hyperlocal level. For instance, don’t pitch a Chicago boutique to a Los Angeles newspaper that covers retail within that Designated Market Area (DMA). Yours could have all the makings of a good story, but it won’t get picked up if the location doesn’t fit.

4. Pitching policies

Pitching policies

Research the segments or sections featured across your targeted outlets to determine the ideal placement and positioning for your story. Then determine whether or not those segments and sections accept publicity materials. A regional entertainment magazine might accept event listings but not books for review. Knowing ahead of time if your product, service or brand will be considered saves time and effort.

Need a few more practical pitching tips for successful public relations? Check out part 1 of our Best Practices for Communicators in 2021 series, What Journalists Want from PR Pros (in Their Own Words).

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About Teresa Dankowski

Teresa Dankowski is a content marketing manager at Cision and covers best practices in marketing, PR and social media. She enjoys printmaking, wine, TV and dominating at rec league softball.