Before You Pitch to Media: A Checklist

If you want media exposure, you have to pitch to journalists, editors, and bloggers. It can be nerve-wracking to approach them with your story idea. After all, you’re setting yourself up for rejection.

Believe it or not, pitching to media gets easier with practice. And being as prepared as possible reduces your stress and increases your chances of success.

Use this checklist to help you prepare for your next pitch to media:

Intelligence on the media practitioner

Don’t even think about pitching to a journalist or blogger unless you know who they are, what type of media they create, and for which audience.

Use the social tools available today to learn as much as you can about the people you’re pitching to. Read, listen to or watch their reports. Read their blog. Visit their LinkedIn profile and posts in groups. Read their Twitter streams. Dig into their personal and professional interests.

Of course, you should have a media list with all the contact information you’ll need. But you also need to know how journalists like to be reached. Some prefer to be emailed rather than called. Others, believe it or not, may still prefer snail mail. Do some sleuthing to find out as much as you can about the journalists you plan to pitch to.

Compelling Story Idea

This is what you’re pitching. Make sure you have a story that will be interesting to media — and their audience. Read this post on what makes a story newsworthy. Does your story idea have some of these elements?

Use the knowledge you gained from your social media research to come up with a specific angle for each person you’ll be pitching to. Because of the variety of audiences and styles, you’ll have to come up with alternate angles.

Customized Pitch

Prepare one pitch for each person, not a broadcast, generic or copy-and-paste pitch. Some of your pitches may have very small variations, but keep in mind you’re pitching to individuals rather than the masses. Read this post on how to write a media pitch.

Whatever you do, keep your pitch brief and focus on what’s in it for them. Why would the story be interesting to the journalist? Why would their audience care about it?

If pitching by email or snail mail, make it personal. Don’t sound like a corporation, but like a person.

If you’re pitching in person or over the phone, practice. Sound confident and enthusiastic.

Finally, always include your most important contact information: name, email, phone number, and website URL.

Background Information

Be ready with all the information the journalist will need, if they decide to pursue your story. These may include:

  • background information on your business/company or product
  • list of possible interviewees
  • related articles, interviews, quotes
  • photos
  • list and description of available audio and video clips
  • contact person’s name and all contact points

Consider putting everything on an online media kit for easy (and mobile) access.

Backup Plan

Finally, have a backup plan. Not everybody you approach will be interested in your story. If so, be prepared with a list of whom you will approach next. Perhaps it’s a set of journalists or bloggers with a more limited reach, but who can penetrate your target audience to some degree.

Also, how will you use those wonderful but unpublished story angles? Why not turn them into blog posts? Videos? Or podcasts? You see, all that preparation need not go to waste.

And don’t forget to make a plan to re-purpose and leverage all the media exposure you will get as a result of your media pitch.

Read, Set, Pitch!

Now you’re armed and all set for your next media pitch.

Following this checklist will reduce your anxiety and give you more confidence when you approach journalists.

What else do you have ready when you make your pitch? Would you like to add anything to this list?