A simple question – and here’s a simple answer; it depends. Sorry to be coy but the reality is there’s no magic bullet for hitting the target with every media producer. However, if you follow these recommendations you may hit the mark more often with print editors, broadcast producers and digital directors.
First, know THEIR audience. If you know the gender, age, cultural interests and socio-economic-status of the audience they’re trying to reach you can determine if your content will be of interest to them.
Second, know the news philosophy of the media outlet and its producers. What drives THEM? The more relevant your pitch is to the philosophic mission of the news department, the more likely your content will be valuable to them.
Beyond that, the keys to a strong pitch are the same fundamental elements as they have always been; they need to be current, compelling and demonstrate some aspect of conflict when possible.
Timeliness will always be a key consideration for media producers. Some story pitches are timely because of the events associated with the pitch. Use those when possible. If the story pitch lacks a timeliness aspect, look to leverage current events in your favor. For instance, if the story is about economic development, try to leverage recent local, regional or national economic stories or events to make your pitch timelier in the eyes of content managers.
We all know that every story pitch should be compelling. And, most of us likely believe our pitches ARE compelling – but to whom? The story pitch must be compelling to the audience the media outlet reaches. Sending a compelling pitch about an environmental conference may be great for some outlets, but if you want it to be compelling to a business news outlet you must bring an economic aspect to the pitch. In some instances, this can be better handled in a customized cover email to the media producer. That’s where having a stronger knowledge of a media producer and the philosophy of a news outlet comes in handy.
This can be the toughest one to accomplish because many story pitches are focused on positive attributes and intentionally avoid conflict. However, conflict also can be created by challenging conventional thinking or circumstances. If your story pitch lacks conflict – look to amplify how it challenges the existing norm, creating a new normal for others to follow.
One final recommendation – keep it short. A journalist’s life is more jam-packed today than ever before. They don’t have time for long explanations. If it takes more than a few seconds for them to see the value in the story idea, it’s likely they will pass on it. So, hook them with a headline, compel them with a sense of urgency and conflict in your description and then be ready to jump into action.
Not every story pitch will succeed but if you keep these keys in mind you will improve the odds of success for your clients and your firm.