While the number of on-staff journalists continues to decrease, people's desire for more content is growing. Businesses can benefit from media coverage, but it is important to pitch their stories in an effective manner.
Ask any journalist about how secure their job is, and they are likely to tell you that the industry as a whole is facing a dilemma.
Many media outlets’ revenues and the number of journalists on staff are declining while the publics’ desire for more content continues to grow. This need places PR and marketing agencies in a prime position to help fill the void for new content.
To fill this void, however, PR and marketing agencies need to change the way they pitch content.
3 Ways to Secure Media Coverage for Clients
1) Understand the journalists you pitch
2) Pitch journalists critically and thoughtfully
3) Create a golden pitch
Understand the Journalists You Pitch
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ten-year outlook for journalism is bleak with a 9% decrease in jobs between 2016 and 2026.
When it comes to reporters and correspondents’ jobs, the decrease is even more pronounced with 10% fewer jobs in 2026 than in 2016.
With the reduced staff numbers, the days of mass-sending press releases or pitches in the vague hope that a media outlet will pick it are over. Journalists do not have the time to read through ineffective pitches, especially ones that have been sent out to every other media outlet.
Instead, PR and marketing agencies can use their best asset, their client roster, to fully flesh out a media pitch and make a journalist's life much easier.
Pitch Journalists Critically and Thoughtfully
According to Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media Report, more than 28% of journalists responded that staffing cuts and reduced newsroom numbers are the biggest challenges facing modern journalism.
Two of the five journalists featured in that report responded that “creating original and creative content with a human interest element to the story” is an important part of what they are looking to create. Almost half of the journalists who responded (45%) also said the most effective way to pitch a press release is to clearly state the newsworthiness.
Below is an example of an average type of pitch that a journalist will receive on any given day.
As you can see, the pitch strikes a playful, yet hyperbolic tone but it seeks to do one thing, advertise the Batman and Catwoman collectible sculpture.
There’s very little in this pitch for the journalist and simply takes time from their day. Instead of going with this more promotional approach, the PR agency could have easily reached out to the cosplay community and built its pitch around why the iconic duo of Batman and Catwoman are still relevant today.
The latter approach provides the writer with more resources and an interesting storyline for those that would like to pick up the story.
One quick tip to instantly improve your pitches is that nobody wants to be sold to. Choose to provide the context and content instead of just trying to publicize your client.
Create a Golden Pitch
Providing context to the content is absolutely critical in creating a golden pitch as it allows the pitcher to establish why their pitch is newsworthy to the media outlet’s readers and improves their chances of the pitch being turned into a story.
The image is a great example of a successful pitch that a Vancouver-based digital marketing agency sent to a Star Vancouver journalist.
The Vancouver digital marketing agency used its connections to key advocates of the story, including the chief operating officer of a retirement home. The agency then managed to explain the impact on seniors when businesses stop providing certain services.
This golden pitch was wrapped around the news that Greyhound would stop providing its services in Western Canada and Greyhound's other diminished services. As a result of this well thought out approach, the pitch became an integral story to that week’s news cycle.
But, it is possible to take the golden pitch too far.
Early in 2019, an article in the online outlet, Networking in Vancouver, discussed a report on small business practices in Canada.
The pitch featured a number of professionals including a tax consultant, a lawyer, a home furnishings’ retailer, and an email marketing platform; all of which were clients of one agency.
The result was that this golden pitch became jumbled and the important takeaways from the initial report swiftly became lost.
Instead of using the article to highlight every client that the agency has, the PR professional could have simply used the expertise of their two most influential clients to highlight what the Vistaprint study means for small and local businesses. It is possible that by narrowing down the scope of that article, it would have been picked up by a major outlet instead.
If you cannot build an authentic and useful Golden Platter pitch, consider using one of the following alternative methods to securing media coverage:
- Newsjacking - build off of a current event, or upcoming event, and tailor it to show off your client’s expertise.
- Thought leadership - with a little bit of writing pizazz and know-how, you could secure coveted opinion pieces for your clients.
- Advertorials - advertorials are the new press release, except you get the guarantee of it being picked up in at least one media outlet. Research which media outlet best resonates with your target audience and get in touch with the local salesperson.
Whether you choose to employ the Golden Platter pitch, newsjack, or pay for an advertorial, never forget that the subject has to not only resonate with the journalist but also with the public-at-large. Success in any PR campaign is about finding the impact that your news will have on the community and using it deftly.
Make Sure Your Clients Receive Coverage
Media coverage can be extremely important to a business as it creates a buzz about a company and helps with SEO practices. If your company is dedicated to helping clients receive journalist links, make sure that you are using the best tactics to help them.
By researching journalists, figuring out your ideal audience, and crafting a well-thought pitch, you have a greater chance of making your report hit the news. While securing journalist attention can be challenging, it is worth the investment to create an organic story about your business.