Tips for Getting a Journalist Interested in Your Story

By Marcel Evans

Vintage Journalist Reporter Typewriter

I still remember the first time I got press coverage for a client. I worked at a boutique marketing firm in what can only be described as "a closet with a window." Only an imaginative landlord could describe the space as an office. The creative director sat with his back to me. Talk about pressure to perform!

After days of pitching various media outlets for a new client with no luck, I abandoned my usual cold-call approach and tried something different.

Here's what worked for me:

Do your homework: The more you know about the media outlet or reporter/producer/editor the more tailored and relevant your pitch will be. Reporters love Twitter as a social media outlet. Who they follow, what they tweet and retweet are all valuable things you'll want to know.

Do their homework: From newspaper editors to TV reporters, a journalist is constantly under deadline. When I pitched a journalist, I coordinated the interview, provided quotes and pretty much acted as a wrangler for whatever they needed. As a result, reporters contact me because they anticipate a complete, packaged story.

It's okay to be friends: Okay maybe not “friends” in the traditional sense, but feel free to follow their Twitter feed and provide them with relevant story ideas or quotes. I help reporters out even when there is nothing immediately in it for me. Providing this value will keep you top of mind when they’re looking for a good story.

Think like a reporter and know the medium: Thinking like a reporter will allow you to anticipate their needs. I've personally learned:

  • If you are pitching a TV station, have a plan for B-Roll footage.
  • Use magazine editorial calendars to plan your PR pitch strategy.
  • End every pitch with a question. "Can I provide you with any story quotes?" Leave the conversation open ended to spur the reporter to reply.

Using the strategies above, I pitched the story to a local TV station producer. The client received morning and evening coverage along with an online feature, and that producer and I have gone on to work together on several other stories.