Pitching for online coverage

What you need to know about pitching for online media coverage with Broadsheet's National Editor, Sarah Norris

For most of us in PR, securing media coverage is one of the main goals of a campaign and these days, a lot of that coverage sits online. In this episode, I chat with Sarah Norris, National Editor of leading Australian online cultural city guide Broadsheet, to provide some insight into what you should consider before you pitch to a website. Plus, we cover what to include in your pitch, what websites want in regards to imagery and why utility is the number one sense check you should be applying to every pitch.


WHAT SHOULD I BE THINKING ABOUT BEFORE I PITCH?

It's not rocket science but so often PRs get wrapped up in the fact they need to get coverage and they don't think hard enough about how to do it.

  • First and foremost, you should consider - is this a good story? Does it have utility? What can the reader utilise from this story? And being a new product/venue/offering generally isn't enough

  • And secondly, is this a good story for this publication? Just because you think it appeals to one website, doesn't mean it will appeal to a second, or third, or fourth. So what specifically about this story will be appealing to this publication? What do you know about the publication? Who is their target reader? What kind of stories do they run - are they long-form, in-depth feature articles that are very serious in nature or quick Top 10 lists?

“It's the role of the PR to make something newsworthy and not just send out information”

Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips on pitching for online coverage. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".

WHEN IT COMES TO PITCHING, WHAT SHOULD I KEEP IN MIND?

  • Don't use hyperbole or make far-fetched claims. Writers can see through that in a heartbeat and the more times you say it, the less they will trust and respect pitches and media releases that come from you. If your client or company is adamant they are the best, then let them know the consequences of making those claims and suggest saying they are 'one of' is safer. And, keep in mind you don't have to be the biggest or the best to be of interest to a writer

  • Provide context to how that product/offering/business sits within that industry. Are they the first to do something? If not, how do they differentiate what they offer to other key competitors? Understand the history of the industry they're part of and how meaningful your announcement is within that industry

  • Writers want more than just the facts. The media release should certainly address those facts but the pitch should be tailored towards the angles or extra information that's particularly appealing to that media outlet

  • Don't send a pitch without relevant imagery. For websites, they generally require landscape images, at least 1mb in size. Phone snaps don't cut it - if you want the best chance of securing coverage, you need professional photography

  • Check what similar coverage has run recently. If you're pitching gift guide ideas for Valentine's Day and an outlet ran their gift guide last week, it's very obvious you don't have attention to detail or are reading that publication. Do a quick review before you pitch. Additionally, are there any trends you can pick up from previous stories? Have you noticed that your cafe is the third cafe in the last month to launch a particular offering? If so, is there an industry trend you can suggest as being a hook?

  • Make the journalist's life as easy as possible. Journos are flat-out, fielding numerous PR pitches throughout the day plus actually producing content. If you give them everything they require without them having to ask for it, it makes their job a lot easier and it's likely to push you to the top of the pile. Attach the media release, link to imagery, let them know which spokespeople are available. Be responsive and available to any questions


TIPS FROM ONE PR TO ANOTHER...

  • Challenge the information you receive about the product/offering/venue you're wanting to get coverage for. If you're pitching out the new spring menu for a restaurant and are given the 12 new dishes, deep dive on each of those dishes with the chef. What makes that an interesting dish? What produce has been used and is there anything notable about where it's been sourced from? Is it a contemporary twist of a classic dish? You'll find your clients or the business you work for, if you're in-house, won't know necessarily what will appeal to journalists. It's your job to tease that information out of them

  • Follow-up a pitch. Journos are busy and just because they haven't responded, doesn't mean they don't think it's a great story. If you've still not had a response to that first follow-up, make sure your second follow-up has some additional, new angles that could be of interest

  • Know how each journalist likes to receive a media release. Some like the media release to be copied into the body of the email, below the pitch. This means they can quickly skim down and read without having to click an attachment. Others prefer the media release to be attached so they only have to read it if they're interested in knowing more. Know how each contact likes to receive information and tailor it to them, where possible

  • Make the most of your email subject headings. Use your media release heading here - it will be the first thing a journo sees so it needs to be catchy and relevant

  • Don't follow up a pitch immediately with a phone call, unless it's a time-sensitive matter. If you need a response within a few hours then fine. If not, give the journlist at least 48hrs to review and process its relevance/interest to them. There's nothing worse for a journo to receive a phone call from a PR 'just checking' they've received a media release that's not urgent


Missed the episode on pitching to radio? You'll find it here.

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