It isn’t easy to get a journalist’s attention these days. They are busier than ever and are bombarded with story ideas. That’s why you need to understand the way journalists operate and what they need from you.

An exchange with a reporter is different than an exchange with a business prospect. They are not interested in your business; they’re interested in a story for their audiences.

Here are some fundamental practices for pitching to journalists:

First, introduce yourself before you pitch.

Most journalists will ignore pitches from people they don’t know or names they don’t recognize. Journalists are usually pressed for time, so you have a much better chance of getting some of that precious time if you know the reporter or they know your company.

Be brief, and let them follow up when they’re ready.

We’ve said it a few times already: journalists are busy. They might not respond to your email quickly unless your story pitch is exciting to them or particularly timely. A two or three-sentence email or Twitter message is all they need — and then give them time to respond.

Make sure you send your release in a timely fashion.

Journalists can only cover so much from day to day, so help them by sending your news release out in a timely fashion. For example, send a media alert before your event to see if you can get a reporter there. And send the news release immediately after the event to see if you can get coverage after the fact. And it’s always a good idea to send a high-quality photo or two, or even a video.

Tie your company into other relevant industry news.

One way to get attention for your company is to focus on industry trends. Reporters like to write about new and exciting things, so if there’s a hot new trend in your line of work, a journalist might be interested in your perspective on it.

Make your pitch as engaging as possible.

You can use plenty of templates to write a “good” pitch. But the journalist you contact has probably received hundreds of “good” pitches. They’re looking for the extraordinary, the innovative, or the surprising. So be creative in your pitches, and make yourself stand out from the others.

 

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