All PR pros know that landing coverage for a client is an uphill battle. With the evolving media landscape and “news of the day” dominating airwaves, inserting clients into the conversation is increasingly difficult.
This month, I attended “How to Pitch Effectively During an Election Season,” a town hall luncheon hosted by News Generation. The event featured reporters from three Washington, D.C., radio stations: WAMU’s Matt Bush, WNEW’s Jim MacKay and 94.7 Fresh FM’s Jen Richer.
Although the event was positioned around securing coverage during an election cycle, there were some larger-scale takeaways for communicators that are applicable regardless of political timing. Enjoy these four nuggets of intel.
When you pitch local, tie in a local angle
All three reporters echoed the importance of local angles in pitches to local outlets. Local news is just that – local. Even if your story is national, tie in a local element, such as a statistic or regional spokesperson.
From my own experience, I can tell you it’s true. For example, we’ve had the greatest success when we pitch local patient recovery stories for one of our national health care clients. Reporters want the opportunity to put a local face to a national health story or trend.
Know the outlet you’re pitching
Sending reporters content that doesn’t align with their shows’ audiences or formats is a quick way to get blacklisted.
Why is it increasingly hard to know who you’re pitching? Two reasons:
1. Reporters are now responsible for multiple beats. This makes it difficult to ascertain what they’d be interested in covering.
2. Rapid reporter turnover rates. Reporters move around from outlet to outlet constantly, making tracking their whereabouts a full-time job.
From my experience, pitching a reporter something you know they’d be interested in takes research time on the front-end, but saves your pitch from the ultimate kiss of death: the “delete” button.
Data is king
Data lends stories credibility while offering a great soundbite, so finding numbers and statistics can help substantiate your pitch. Matt Bush from WAMU called this trend “data journalism,” and added that it is growing, fast.
The digital age has made easy-to-absorb numerical data very popular for web-and-digital based content. At Van Eperen, we’ve noticed that traditional media outlets are increasingly requesting statistics to weave into stories and it was interesting to hear reporters validate what we’ve seen on the field.
Be cognizant of lead times
Different types of media require different lead times. Knowing these lead times is crucial for landing a story.
For instance, if your story ties into “news of the day,” you can pitch while the show is on the air. Other stories require more time in advance, depending on the outlet.
To sum it up: Reporters want local angles that appeal to their target demographics. Journalists want easily consumable data to back up their stories. Finally, work within the confines of lead times.
If you nail these basics, your pitch won’t get lost in the shuffle and you’ll be on your way to securing coverage for your client. May the odds be ever in your favor.
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