7 things to keep in mind when pitching to a journalist

by | Brand Awareness

Using media to get your brand in front of the right people

Without bringing in new customers, it can be very challenging to create consistent revenue. To reach a wider audience, you have probably considered social media, Facebook Ads or Google AdWords, but what about good old fashioned media publications?

People tend to forget the power of media, or maybe you’ve put it into the ‘too hard basket’.
But with a solid pitch to relevant magazines or (local) newspapers, you can reach the right people who’ll be interested in your products (aka your target audience) – even if no one has ever even heard of you before.

We’ve asked journalist Hannah Warren for her top tips to keep in mind when pitching your story to the media.

Before you get started however, it is absolutely crucial that you’re clear on your brand story (otherwise you’ll struggle to write your pitch). If you need some help with that, check out our workbook on how to nail your brand story.

1. Choose publications that suit your brand

There are a zillion publications and magazines out there; how on earth do you choose? Or should you just reach out to everyone in hopes of getting a “yes” from someone and anyone? It’s a straight no from us, if you’re thinking the latter. What’s the use of getting featured in a finance mag if you make and sell toys for kids?!

If you make minimalist homewares, look at home magazines with a similar style. If you sell crochet wall decorations, you might want to take a look at magazines focusing on art and decor.

Make sure you do your research! Look at websites and check out the magazines/newspapers you’re considering. Then compile a list of the magazines and publications that potentially align with your brand.

Tip:
Think about who your people are and where they hang out. In other words, will they be more likely reading print magazines or digital publications? Think outside the traditional print-media box, because websites like Broadsheet and Concrete Playground create huge buzz for local artisans and are always looking for content.

2. Reach out to the right people

Once you’re happy with the publications and magazines you’ve picked (choose as many as you like to increase your odds), it’s time to find the right people to contact.

For print publications, look for the masthead (this is where you’ll find the names and contact details of editors, writers and publisher). It’s also called the nameplate, and is usually found on the first few pages.

For digital, check the footer for information or head to the Contact page to get a direct contact.

Tip:
You can go directly to the editor. But they’re usually busy people, so you’re probably better off going to the features editor, content editor, or staff writer. Don’t bother sending it to the designer or the subeditor, they usually have no say in what goes in the mag.

What if I can’t find the right email address?

Don’t worry, it’s easy to figure it out – just look at the format for the company’s email address and fill in their details (usually, their full name).
Otherwise, you can use contact finder tools, such as hunter.io or contactout.com.

Otherwise, you could post a message on a PR-media aggregate board such as Social Diary and see if any publications or journalists come to you.

3. Get personal with your contact

Look, it might seem like an efficient move to send an identical email to all the journalists on your list, but it can be really off-putting to the recipient. And let’s not mention the big Oops if you forget to change some of the details before you send it. (Yes, it happens. All. The. Time.) Do not get tempted – put in the extra effort.

That being said, by all means have a template with your elevator pitch and a bit of information about yourself. But please please please make sure each one you send is unique with the correct name and publication.

Double check, and then triple check! Then check once more.

It always helps to add a little personal detail to your recipient. So read up on some things they’ve written or published recently. Find out what they’d be interested in and get to know them a little. If you’re directing your email to a writer, you could mention you liked a story they had published recently, or you could tell an editor that last month’s issue of their magazine was great. Being genuine is key though (aka don’t suck-up)!

4. Paint a colourful story

Your journalist, like every other human, enjoys a relatable and well-told story. In other words, you’ll need to pitch your business in a way that makes it beneficial to the journalist or publication. (This is why it’s sooo important to pick the right one for you!)

So firstly, forget about how amazing your product is and all its features that make your product an absolute superstar.
Try this instead: How does your product relate to this journalist? Why should they care? Maybe you’ve got a great story behind your product – does your brand work with refugees, or use an exciting new technology? Or maybe you’ve got a recipe that was re-discovered after a century. Remember that people will only be interested in your product if they know what you’re all about.

Tip:
If you struggle to figure out your big story, think trends, seasons and current issues:

  • You might pitch to a fashion mag: “Summer is coming up, and my hand-woven straw hats are perfect for a beachwear spread.”
  • Or a social issues magazine: “My hand-poured soy candles are made with ingredients sourced from a women’s collective in India.”
  • Or to a homewares magazine: “Pantone’s colour of the year was Calming Blue, and my linen sheets fit perfectly with that trend.” 

If you’re still struggling to find the right angle, we strongly suggest to check out our workbook on how to nail your brand story before contacting media.

5. Include pictures of your products

A picture is worth a thousand words! Attaching a pic or two will help your journalist decide whether your product is the right fit.

Tip:
Make sure that your images are high-res, blurry images will not get published. Attach a selection of photos to your pitching email to show what you have available, and mention you can supply more on request.

6. Send a friendly follow-up email

If you don’t get a response to your first email, send a follow-up email. Sometimes people just get busy and forget. Write an email (short and sweet is more than enough) asking if they had any interest and include a few of the pertinent details. If you don’t get a response to that either, shrug it off and move on to the next one. Sometimes, no matter how amazing your product is, it might not the right fit for the journalist or publication.

7. To send samples or not to send samples

Indeed, that is the question! Let’s say if sending out samples won’t cost you much (consider the cost of shipping as well), by all means send a package with a cute little note. Make sure you send an email to remind recipients to check their inbox at the same time, or they might miss it!

If it costs you a bit more, mention in your email that you have samples available for testing and photography – most writers will only follow this up if they are seriously considering you.

Lastly, if it costs you an arm and a leg, maybe avoid it. Unless they are definitely giving you a write up – it’s a marketing cost and definitely worth it given the exposure you’re going to get.

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