How to pitch to the press: getting top-notch coverage for your business

Getting your business’ voice heard in newspapers, magazines or on the radio is a fantastic way to build a positive reputation and create awareness of your brand. For many small businesses, hiring a PR team isn’t an expense they have the budget to cover. However, with the help of our top-tips, you can do it yourself and get that media coverage you deserve.

The warm-up

Decide who you want to reach
Each journalist covers a different beat for the publication they work at, whether that’s real-estate, personal finance or healthcare. Doing some research and creating a list of targets that are relevant to your industry should be the first step in your planning. The more time and effort you put into your research, the better your chances for a good coverage outcome will be.

Gather contact details from relevant journalists and editors
Some publications make it easy for you and list contact details for journalists on their website. However, if they don’t, you can usually work out the email format by looking at the ones that are listed. Social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter can also be a useful contact tool. If in doubt, there is no harm in calling up to ask – just don’t take it personally if a rushed journalist is short on the phone.

Build a personal relationship first
Establishing a personal relationship with a journalist prior to pitching them is a great way to get your foot in the door. For example, you could re-post one of their articles on Twitter with a nice comment so they remember your name when you pitch. Once you’ve sparked a connection, you could even offer to treat them to lunch or coffee, which would allow you to talk a bit about your business and how you can help them with any stories they’re planning.

The pitch

Pitch a story – don’t pitch your company
Before you pitch, ask yourself “will this benefit the journalist?”. Journalists aren’t interested in business pitches, they want something that their readers can relate to, so try to tie your business into a wider story. You could also consider crafting your pitch around something topical, which will help tempt the journalist – this is sometimes called a ‘hook’. If you decide to use a press release for your outreach, check out our blog for some top-tips on how to write one.

Strike early in the morning
If you’re pitching via email, which is the preferred route for many journalists nowadays, the best time to get their attention is early in the morning. The majority of people start their days at 9am and will begin sending their pitches during that time. We suggest beating the rush and sending your emails even earlier. Having an attention-grabbing subject line is also key to getting them to open your email, so it’s worth spending some time on that. You may choose to use your leading message or best stat.

Pitch an interview alongside the story
Offering an interview with a case study, or representative from your business, alongside your story is a huge bonus for the journalist. It helps to add a human side to the narrative, especially if it’s a case study – such as customer of yours who thinks highly of your business. It’s definitely worth having a chat with this person beforehand to ensure they stick to your intended message and will supply comments that compliment your story.

Post-pitch tips

Be prepared to follow with up more information
If a journalist is interested in your story, they will generally get back to you within a day or so. But in a busy newsroom, stories can get missed, so don’t be afraid to chase up pitches or press releases by phone or email. However, if you’ve chased a few times and don’t hear anything back, it’s safe to assume the journalist isn’t interested. Focus your energy on other targets at this point.

Be realistic in your expectations and don’t give up
Securing press coverage for any business – especially on a national level – isn’t an easy task. Building a media profile takes time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t feature in the press the first time you try. Being persistent, diligent and learning from your mistakes is key to getting the results you deserve. Your time will come, so don’t give up!