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Companies can solve various tasks through media publications: increase recognition, attract new users, find partners or investors, strengthen their founder’s personal brand and so on. But writing a story is only half the battle: you have to pitch news or columns to journalists so that they want to publish them. According to an study, journalists respond to 3.3% of the pitches they receive. So how can an londonbusinessblog.com interest an editor? Here are a few tips:
Put yourself in their shoes
Treat journalists like regular people. I encountered situations where companies or agencies expected editors to respond to emails the same day or correspondents asked for editorial plans. Some even ended their pitch by saying, “If you don’t answer me in 24 hours, I’ll send the topic to another media outlet.” Entering into benevolent relations with the editors is impossible with such an approach.
It is important to understand that journalists receive dozens, sometimes hundreds, of requests every day. According to Fraction Research, 46.5% of journalists receive at least 11 pitches per day and 28.6% receive more than 26 pitches per day. For example, the Financial Times gets 300-400 columns a week, making it physically impossible for their editors to respond to each letter individually. That said, they don’t have to write about you when you want to appear in the paper as an expert.
Try to imagine yourself in the shoes of the person you are writing to. If you are the editor of a magazine you are interested in, which of the hundreds of letters are you most likely to open? It is also helpful to read articles on topics that are relevant to you and analyze why they were published. What caught the editor’s attention? What can your company do to enthuse them? Why would they accept and why would they reject the article you are preparing? Thinking this way helps you choose a topic as well as a way to pitch it.
Usually newspapers themselves indicate to writers what might interest them. londonbusinessblog.com, The New York Times, Business Insider, and many other prominent business websites have guides for writers. So I recommend looking for instructions before researching topics and preparing your column.
Related: 5 ways to get a journalist to respond to your pitch
Think of your PR as a Rubik’s cube
A Rubik’s cube has many sides with different colors, just like your company. If your side of the cube looks red to you, it might be green to your investors, blue to your customers, yellow to your employees, and so on.
For example, if your product is a marketplace, your partners will be interested in what features you have to promote their goods, how profitable and secure the transactions are, and whether you can outsource fulfillment and delivery. On the other side are users: they will pay attention to the breadth of choice, how sellers are checked for counterfeit goods and when the support service is available. And potential investors will be willing to learn about product-market fit, market volume, competition, financial performance and your team’s experience. So if you want to publish an article in a media outlet, first think about who should read it and which side of the Rubik’s cube you are showing them.
You can also apply this principle in communication with various editors. Some editors will be interested in your product from a technology standpoint, and others will be interested in how your business scaled, how you hired a team, or your marketing promotion strategies. Take a good look at material that has already appeared on the media website before posting a pitch to an editor. The topic you propose should fall within the media’s sphere of interest, but it should not be too trite.
Here’s an example from my experience: A client of my agency prepared a cybersecurity survey. We wanted to promote it in the UAE, a market of particular importance to the company, but we focused on the Middle East when preparing the news release. As a result, local media were not interested in the news as it covered too much of the region. We had to rewrite the article with the emphasis on the Emirates to get it.
Follow the format of the media channel
If you send your article without a headline, lead, or subsections, the text will even look visually informal. Instead, it’s worth researching beforehand how articles look on the website and adding the right design to your column or news post. In this case, the editor will at least see that you understand the format of a newspaper and are more likely to read the material.
Sometimes editors ask for plain text articles, but even then it’s critical to break them up into paragraphs rather than sending them as a single text. Equally important is how the letter is written and formatted. You have to take into account differences in mentality, take into account weekends and holidays, and of course be polite. I recommend mentioning the topic right away in the headline, so the journalist can catch a glimpse of the letter as they flip through their inbox. Sometimes journalists advise writers when and how to pitch their subjects. Below are tips from StartupToEnterprise founder Linda Ashok as an example:
“I prefer pitches via email. I won’t respond if I’m not going to tell the story you’re pitching to me. When emailing, my ideal email length is 2-3 sentences and I prefer not to receive follow-up emails. I always check news posts for new story ideas. 1. Name (please don’t misrepresent yourself) 2. Company 3. 2. Line Pitch 4. Wait for response.”
Related: The 5 foolproof steps to presenting your story to the media
Remember, there will be no second chance to leave the first impression
Often clients insist on sending the letter quickly, even if it is not yet perfected. It’s better to spend a little more time finishing the material, especially if it’s your first time pitching a topic to a media outlet. After all, if you leave a false impression of yourself, it will be harder for you to interest an editor next time. Some correspondents block entire domains after receiving irrelevant letters from agencies. Sometimes that succeeds after two failed pitches.
Other times, companies do an automated mailing to dozens of media outlets. As a result, instead of personalized messages, journalists receive emails with “Hello, name” or “Hello, first name” in the title. Occasionally you can see the email addresses of all recipients in such newsletters because the company or agency forgot to hide them. There is a good chance that the sender will be blocked immediately after such an e-mail.
Another common mistake is not considering the relevance of your material. For example, correspondents of business news websites regularly receive pitches linked to the end of the year in September and even August.
And the surest way to get blocked is to lie to a reporter once. Sometimes entrepreneurs try to embellish their performance and the financial performance of their company by calling GMV income or projected income – actual income. As with investors, this will lead to detrimental consequences – in all likelihood, media workers will no longer consider your news and columns.
You might think that the media channel isn’t that relevant and that one case like this won’t solve anything. But don’t forget that journalists often change jobs and share stories of bad pitching with colleagues and in the public space. When a niche journalist becomes a correspondent at The Washington Postyou can’t write them anymore because you let them down once.
Believe in your idea
Finally, always send a letter with a positive vibe and the belief that you have a valuable product and useful experience. Clients often tell me they have nothing to write about. Yet every londonbusinessblog.com goes through an exciting journey: find their niche, create an MVP, learn how to manage and delegate a team, promote the product and adapt it to customer feedback, raise funding rounds and scale to new regions. Your personal experience and unique ideas will interest journalists if you talk about them in detail and honestly.
Related: The secrets to getting journalists to notice your pitch
Are you struggling to get effective media coverage? If so, put yourself in their shoes, think about the interests of the publication, follow the format of the outlets as closely as possible, try to make a good first impression and believe in your idea. By using these tips, you’ll be on your way to turning journalists into friends of your brand.