With COVID-19, social justice, diversity, and inclusion (D&I), and other hot topics governing coverage across trade and mainstream media, what are editors, reporters, and media gatekeepers looking for as they navigate through hundreds of pitches?
Ayanna Alexander, social justice reporter at Bloomberg Industry Group and Tracey Eyers, executive editor, race, equity & justice at NBC News, share advice to breaking through.
With hundreds of pitches hitting email inboxes, a smart and targeted subject line makes the difference between open and delete. Indicate what you’re pitching in the subject line and keep word length concise. When it comes to the actual pitch, remember, the shorter the better.
Editors and gatekeepers do not have the time to read a lengthy pitch, so keep it concise and break up copy with bullet points and short sentences. Media outlets are competing against each other. When framing your pitch, pay attention to topics trending that day or week on social and traditional media platforms, and connect your story to trends if/as possible.
If the story is timely and relevant, the greater the likelihood the story idea will get routed for further review by the editorial team. It’s a good idea to underscore why viewers/readers should care about the story.
When stories are deemed or flagged of possible interest, they get routed internally for others within the news organization to review and weigh-in. Your pitch recipients may pitch your story to peers at editorial or planning meetings. Help the person you’ve sent your pitch to further sell-in your story by distinctly calling out in the pitch what it is you’re offering. This is where bullet points can come in handy.
Include a list of assets (audio, video, available content, social buttons, etc.) in the pitch. If you’re pitching a spokesperson or subject matter expert, include links to media coverage they’ve already captured or content they’ve scripted or created. The more you provide, the more it helps them to sell in your person(s) internally. And don’t forget to include their social media handles!
Responding quickly to media is imperative. Whether an email, phone call or social ping, responding quickly to the inquiry shows interest and helps to materialize the story. Rapid response is important should the reporter offer the option to review the story they’ve written and are planning to post or send to their editor.
If a reporter reaches out to confirm a quote, respond promptly and assuredly. Coming back later requesting changes is not favored, and sometimes no longer possible. If you’re the intermediary, turning over the quote approval process can help to expedite and is much appreciated by the reporter, especially when deadlines are tight.
The stories we see in the media are ultimately the result of a successful partnership between a media and PR representative. Approaching storytelling, and working with media, with that frame of mind can pave the way to telling your great stories.
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