Pitching stories isn’t just for journalists and aspiring writers –Gaining free publicity for your business comes from mastering the ability to interact with the media and sell your idea concisely and effectively. With this in mind, let’s talk free publicity, or specifically, how to pitch your story for greatest potential media uptake.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Know who your target demographic and audience are, including the means for communicating with that audience. Research relevant publications and other media that are geared towards your core customer, considering factors such as content, target demographic, and circulation.
Step 2: Do Your Homework
Look at previously published stories to get a sense of what the general theme and interests of the publication are, and read previous issues to get a feel for the type of writing style and presentation preferred. Publications will often have submission guidelines available, so where possible, research the preferred format for your pitch (For ex., Word Document, PDF, or body of an email). Also be sure to know how far in advance submissions must be made prior to being published.
Step 3: Create Your Pitch
In clear and concise language share your proposal, including the following:
o A 3-4 sentence overview of your idea for a story or feature;
o Why it’s important to their readership;
o Proposed format and length; and,
o Any extras you’d like to include (a giveaway, product images, etc.)
Keep your pitch short and sweet, and be sure to proofread carefully!
Step 4: Click Send!
Draft a short paragraph introducing yourself and your company, including contact information. Attach your pitch in the preferred format, and proof-read your email one last time. Lastly, check the publication’s masthead to make sure your pitch is directed to the appropriate person or area–As perfectly crafted as your idea may be, the food critic won’t care about your company’s newest shade of lipstick.
Step 5: Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hear back right away –major media outlets receive countless submissions everyday. Wait 7-10 days before following-up with an email or call, politely reminding of your submission and thanking for the opportunity. A large part of media uptake is developing and maintaining ongoing relationships with your media partner, so always remain positive and appreciative. If your pitch is accepted, also be sure to follow-up with a thank you letter—the more enjoyable you are to work with, the more likely you will receive future support from the publication
Developing the perfect pitching style takes time and practice, so don’t get discouraged if it takes multiple tries to get one feature!