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Posted on 09.24.2010

Prepare to pitch!

Nothing can instill more anxiety and angst in a public relations practitioner than picking up the phone to call Good Morning America or The New York Times with a pitch.  The truth is that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Although it is important to speak eloquently on your subject matter (you are a publicist, so this should be a piece of cake!), the best way to carry out a flawless pitch is by being prepared. There is nothing worse than calling an editor with a healthcare pitch only to find out that they now cover the sports beat (at least that’s what I’ve heard…).

Below are a few steps to consider during the preparation and pitching process that will help ease your media relations mindset: Know who to pitch:
  • Television:  Assignment Desk (local) or Producers (national)
  • Radio:  News Director or Assistant News Director
  • Print:  Editors or Reporters (based on their individual beats)
  • Blog:  Blogger
Research the media contact:
  • Google past articles a reporter has written
  • Read their personal blogs to learn their interests
  • Review their past experience on LinkedIn to find any common professional connections
  • If you have access to Cision, read their contact profile for cues on how they like to be pitched
  • Follow them on Twitter and read what they’ve been tweeting about recently.
Pitch preparation and execution:
  • Email pitching: Draft a tailored (remember all the research you did?), concise and informational pitch with proposed story topics.  The subject line is the key to having the media open your email, so make it eye-catching.   When applicable, I have had great success by including the title of a specific television or radio segment or of the section of a newspaper or magazine in the subject line.
  • Phone pitching:  Have talking points or a script prepared and expect to have only a minute or two to deliver your pitch.  The first thing you should ask when phone pitching is if the reporter is on deadline.  This lets them know that you “get it.”  Hopefully they will appreciate the gesture and either give you a few minutes to pitch them or ask that you send them information by email (do this immediately after you hang up).  If you get voicemail, leave a short message letting them know you will send them an email with the info (again, do this immediately after you hang up).
Follow-up and connect:
  • Make sure to follow up the next day by phone or email to make sure your contact has received your pitch (or voicemail) and ask if you can provide additional information.
  • Connect to your contact, if possible, through social media — especially if you plan to reach out to this person again the future. Find them on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.  This is a good way to develop relationships with the media and follow up in real-time.

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