How to get journalists to respond to a pitch

Pitching to media and securing coverage is one of the most common things we do in PR but, it can take some time to start doing this effectively. If you haven't had much success in converting your pitches to coverage in newspapers or magazines, you’re not alone. And, help is right here.


Someone who has been on the receiving end of oodles of PR pitches is Katarina Kroslakova. Katarina has been the editor of the Australian Financial Review’s Life & Leisure and Luxury magazines, a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar, is now the editor and publisher of T Australia, The New York Times Style Magazine in Australia AND, runs her own publishing house, Primary Ideas.


With an extensive background in newspapers and magazines, Katarina knows just what you need to do to ensure you have the best chance possible of getting your pitch read by a journalist in these two mediums.


If you're truly focused on arming yourself with as much intel as possible, take a listen to the podcast episode Katarina features on. If you'd like to take a listen, you'll find the episode at the bottom of this blog or just search "The PR Pod" on Apple, Spotify or your fave podcast platform.




What you need to do before pitching to a journalist


1. Know the frequency.

  • As well as taking note of how often a newspaper or magazine is published, pay attention to how often newspaper supplements or specific columns run.

  • Become familiar with the deadlines. The deadline for a general news story in a daily newspaper is very different to their weekly travel supplement.

  • Ensure you're pitching well in advance of the deadline. A weekly newspaper supplement editor is likely to be working on stories at least six weeks prior and a quarterly magazine will be lining up articles for an issue a year away. Even journalists who write for websites or daily papers are planning weeks in advance so don't leave it until the last minute if you want the best chance of securing coverage.

2. Know the reader.

  • Knowing it's a female audience isn't good enough. You need to understand the target age demographic, the interests of their ideal reader and the kind of content that appeals to them.

  • Find the digital media kit. This is generally created for advertisers so they have a clear idea of the audience the media outlet is focused on but it's just as handy for us in PR. They often provide a really clear overview of exactly who they're targeting.

  • Review the social media feeds. This will give you a clear idea of who the content is skewed to as it will be apparent in the tone of voice, choice of imagery, copy and hashtags.

  • Contact the editorial assistant (or similar position) or even the journalist directly, let them know what you've managed to find out about their target audience and ask them to refine on that further. Once you explain you want to ensure you're pitching with their exact audience in mind and show you've done as much groundwork as you can before contacting them, you'll find most will be more than happy to give you some clarity.

3. Know the content.

  • Submerge yourself in the content of that media outlet as comprehensively as you can. Read the last few months worth of a weekly supplement and, at least six issues of a monthly magazine. You don't want to pitch in an angle if they've run something on it recently.

  • If your agency/company doesn't have recent issues to hand, you might be able to access archive issues through digital subscriptions. Alternatively, head to your local library as they will more than likely have newspapers and magazines to hand.


What every pitch should include

  • A clear overview of how that angle (or angles) will be of interest to the audience of that media outlet/supplement/column.

  • An understanding of the deadline of the section you're pitching to. If you're pitching to the editor of a weekly supplement on Wednesday for the issue that comes out that Friday, they'll delete your email before they've got past the first sentence. Show respect for their deadlines by outlining the issue you'd hope this would be considered for (if you have a specific time frame in mind) and giving them plenty of advance notice.

  • Some insight into the brand/company to provide context on who they are and what they offer. You don't need to go into paragraphs of details within an email pitch but a succinct overview is important.

  • Clear tailoring to the media outlet you're pitching to. You may have a central theme for all the journalists/outlets you're pitching to - the launch of a new product - but a newspaper pitch will need to read very differently to a monthly magazine pitch as they have different interests, content requirements and deadlines, even if their readers are similar.

  • DON'T - use hyperbole and gush about how something is the best version of a product the journalist will ever have seen. It's your job to provide the facts and a compelling angle to make them interested in the product and it's their job to decide whether it is indeed the very best.

  • DON'T - send a group email pitch out to multiple journalists and expect it to be answered. If you have a diligent journalist, the email may get read but most will delete it immediately if it isn't clearly tailored to them and their media outlet.

  • DON'T - tell the journalist the story you want them to write. It's for them to decide on the angle that interests them. You need to provide them with information that you believe will be of the most interest to them.


Who is the right person to pitch to at a newspaper or magazine?

Here's a hot tip - it's unlikely to be the editor or editor-in-chief. So, who is?


NEWSPAPER

  • The section editor (i.e. health editor, technology editor, fashion editor) or the news desk editor are your best bets, as well as journalists who work across general news as they will be interested in a broad range of topics. You can also pitch to the editor of the specific supplement you think would be most relevant.


MAGAZINES

  • The Deputy Editor can be a good contact, as many are heavily involved in commissioning and managing content.

  • Section editors, as listed above, are also great options. As are Editorial Assistants as they often provide editorial support to multiple sections within the magazine.

  • Don't forget freelancers. You'll find most freelancers work for specific beats and most of their work is focused in one or two sectors. So, a great travel freelancer is likely to be regularly writing for a couple of the publications you want to get your client in. One pitch to a freelancer could result in you getting in multiple media outlets.

 

Keen to know more?


If you’d like to find out how to manage placing an exclusive announcement, why it's important event invitations need to be transferable beyond the editor and what PR professionals do that annoy journalists (and how to fix that), take a listen to the podcast episode. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast player, just search "The PR Pod".



Please share, rate and follow the podcast so others can find it too!


If you love soaking in insight and information, take a listen to some of our other episodes here.


Images courtesy of Canva.