Tips for Landing High-Impact Media Placements in 2023

By Sherri Kirk
December 13, 2022

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us (is it really?!), it should be much easier to get eyes on your stories, right? Not so fast. Other issues (disruptions to the supply chain, labor and product shortages, transitions in government, an impending recession) are making it increasingly difficult to reach media representatives, especially as staffing issues continue to dominate the news industry. It’s important to remember that your amazing story is competing against other resources and the endless flow of emails.

To break through the clutter, utilize brevity, position clear key messages with impactful words, and offer expert commentary – along with additional assets – within your pitches. Simply give the journalists everything they need – quickly and concisely – to run with your story.

1. Tips for a targeted pitch

Unique and timely story – check. Interesting hook – check. Subject matter expert identified and available – check. Multiple assets to share – check. Now what?

  • Know your goal. What does measurable success look like to your client or organization? What do their stakeholders read and/or watch? How do they define value? Are you reaching key audiences? Finding media outlets that offer more impact for your effort is key. You might need to deprioritize audience reach as a metric.
  • Do your research. Journalists change beats and outlets frequently, and knowing individual beats is not enough. Look at journalists’ profiles and READ their most recent articles to see what types of news they actually cover. What are they passionate about? You could very well have the most compelling story to pitch, but – if you send it to the wrong journalist – it could backfire.
  • Know the differences between types of news. There is a difference between breaking news, announcements, profiles, research, roundups and trends. Back in the day, organizations relied on traditional PR to make big announcements; now, big brands have their own communication channels and don’t necessarily need the media’s help. Larger outlets rarely cover announcements, so yours better be so valuable they’ll look ridiculous for not covering it. Do NOT pitch announcements to someone who does roundups or is only interested in analysis or trends.

2. Customizing your subject line.

The point of the pitch is to get the reporter, writer or producer to engage in dialogue, so you must show value by previewing the pitch in the subject line. Statistics show 85% of journalists open an email based on the subject line alone, making it THE most important part of a pitch. Interject descriptors, such as “new,” “first,” “only,” and “best.” Important elements contained in a customized subject line include:

  • Naming the (outlet’s) specific segment, feature, column, etc. to demonstrate to the editor or producer that you’re familiar with their content
  • Calling out type of pitch (Q&A, guest appearance or expert interview, subsequent news release, contributing article, etc.)
  • Mentioning recent work (Saw IG post about…Loved your story about…)
  • Anticipating their needs – Tease additional assets such as b-roll, expert and/or real people sources, data/stats, infographics, etc.
  • Conveying URGENCY
  • Utilizing colons to break up details and propel the reader forward
  • Not obsessing about length – According to recent analysis conducted by Muck Rack, 10 was the median word count among pitches with an email open rate of 90% or higher. However, subject lines longer than 10 words can be effective; they just must be good.
  • Making a follow-up pitch obvious – Reporters are overwhelmed, and unexpected breaking news can trump your pitch. They don’t mind a follow-up pitch, just be clear in your headline.

3. Simple ways to perfect your pitch

Clarify the benefit with simplicity. What makes your story pitch news? Why should they care to write about it? Watch for trends and be strategic with your outreach. Do not throw the whole kitchen sink at a reporter – a shorter pitch is better. Boilerplates are unnecessary, at this point. Pay attention to the news cycle – timing is everything.

  • Customize your intro to the targeted journalist. Do you know who you are pitching? Read their bylines and review their recent work to see what’s relevant to them and personalize your pitch accordingly. You must first determine WHY your story idea connects with what a particular journalist covers and communicate that clearly and authentically. Only reference their work when you can be specific and sincere.
  • Don’t lead with a news release – reference it within your pitch as background information; When the journalist responds, you can shoot it over later, along with other assets – do NOT attach.
  • Show specific elements of your compelling story. Include the basics in your pitch – timeliness, differentiators and an interesting hook. Tease assets, such as video, soundbites, photos, expert quotes and data, making it perfectly clear all the elements are readily available to make it extremely easy for them to cover your story. When the journalist responds, provide them with Support the claim in your pitch with facts, figures, statistics, studies, etc.
  • Provide direct call to action.

Whatever you do – be consistent and don’t give up! Patience and respect are critical attributes of a true PR professional and key to developing strong media relationships.

What else do you see impacting media outreach in 2023?

To see examples of how we’ve supported our clients with media relations strategy and outreach,view our case studies.