Latest > The dos and don’ts of pitching to journalists

3rd Jun 2024

5 min read

The dos and don’ts of pitching to journalists

Securing a stand-out piece of coverage is one of the greatest rewards of working in PR. In fact, there’s no buzz quite like seeing your release picked up by some of the biggest publishers in the UK.  

But landing first-class coverage isn’t an easy task. According to Press Gazette, there are almost 9,000 more PRs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than there are journalists, which means there’s fierce competition when it comes to getting a reporter’s attention.  

So given the challenge faced on a daily basis to grab a journalist’s attention, we’ve put together some top tips to help make your PR pitches stand out from the rest…  

1. It’s all in the subject line  

You can spend hours – even days – crafting the perfect press release, and drafting the most eloquent of PR pitches, only for a journalist to hit the mini trash icon the second it drops into their inbox. Why?  

The harsh reality for PRs is that journalists receive hundreds of press releases every day. Their shifts are spent out on patch, reporting from court and reacting to breaking incidents, often meaning keeping on top of emails falls low on their list of priorities!  

That’s why you must have your strongest angle in the subject line of your email. It’s often a split-second decision for journalists as to whether they’ll open your email or not.  

It’s best to use your headline in the subject, as it tells the journalist everything they need to know about the release or content you’re pitching in.  

2. Keep pitches short and succinct 

So you’ve passed step one and you’ve got a journalist to open your pitch – but how do you keep them engaged?  

The newsroom can be a high pressure environment, which can make even the most friendly of reporters a little impatient and demanding at times.  

Your PR pitch needs to be short and answer the key questions of: Who? What? Where? When? And also tell the reporter why they should care.  

If you can’t get across the crux of your pitch in three sentences or less, you may need to reconsider your angle or focus.  

 3. Photos & video are king 

With online news consumption now widespread, journalists are more aware than ever of just how important good visuals are to go with a story.  

A good picture or video can make or break whether your content gets picked up or not, so before you even start drafting a pitch or press release, it’s vital to think about what assets you’ll issue alongside it.  

Page view statistics consistently show that stories with images of people perform better than those without. It’s one of the many reasons why most journalists simply won’t run a story about a person if they’re not willing to be named and pictured. So make sure you’ve got a great landscape, high quality image to send out with your release – or even better, an engaging and short subtitled video.

4. Do your research on the publication  

Issuing a press release or pitch should be about the quality, not the quantity of the reporters you are sending it to.  

It can be highly frustrating for journalists to have to spend time decluttering their inboxes of releases which just aren’t relevant to the publication they write for.  

Before pitching into a journalist or publication, spend time reading their website, newspaper or magazine, and note the type of content they cover and the tone they write in. Mirroring their style is one of the best ways to get your pitch or press release picked up, and land some coverage.  

5. When to pick up the phone  

Every PR has experienced it. You’ve done everything right and you’ve still not landed the coverage. What next?  

There’s a chance your pitch has simply been missed. So if you’re certain it’s something your targeted publication would use, it’s definitely worth picking up the phone.  

In this instance, all the above advice still applies. Always be polite and friendly, but keep your phone pitch short and snappy and professional. Journalists can always see through overly friendly PRs trying to charm their way to coverage!

When you pick up the phone, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about a story which may be thrown your way. And if you’re met disinterest, it’s always best to have an alternative angle as back up to suggest.  

PR pitching can be tough, especially when you’re hit with rejection or a blunt response. But don’t take the setbacks personally, because persistence and dedication is often key to securing the coverage that you’re after. Ultimately, PRs and journalists both want good, strong stories out in the news sphere.

If you’d like us to carry out a media relations audit on your business, or bring a fresh and energised approach to your PR strategy, get in touch for a no-commitment exploratory chat.

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Written by

Daniela Loffreda

Daniela has an eye for a news story and a flair for copy writing, grounded in her time spent reporting as a senior journalist. With experience across regional newsrooms in the East Midlands, she has found her PR passion for pitching great content and securing a variety of coverage for clients.

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