What do journalists look for when they want to feature a company?
As someone who receives hundreds of pitches myself, I’m looking forward to exploring this question! I work as both a public relations specialist and the founder and editor of a cannabis lifestyle website, so I have companies in my inbox every day asking for coverage or introducing me to their story. I recently filtered through countless pitches to determine why I responded positively or why I never replied at all.
Here’s what you should consider when writing a pitch if you want a journalist to respond.
1. Write for Widespread Appeal
Reporters often don’t want to feature companies, but larger trends as they relate to the marketplace. They are seeking experts to provide their thoughts on topics that may be difficult for readers to understand or need a specific expertise.
See yourself as the expert who can provide guidance, not as a salesperson making a pitch. Remember that PR is not specifically about driving sales, which is a common misconception. It’s about starting conversations with consumers, driving thought leadership, and positioning your company as a leader in the industry.
2. Tap Into a Trend
Or identify a new one yourself! Trend stories are very valuable – they speak to larger themes in the behavior of consumers in our industry and provide objective education from you as the expert in your field. When pitching reporters, it’s valuable to position yourself as a leading voice in a larger story. Consumers trust these editorially-driven articles, which make them more valuable than an advertisement.
3. Make Yourself Accessible
Journalists are also looking for quick information as they are very busy; if they have to dig for it on your website or in your pitch, they will likely abandon interest. Provide links to your website, a relevant company elevator pitch, and your contact information if they need more, and make it simple to find. If you make it difficult for them or they have to filter through layers of pages on your website, they won’t feature your company or view you as an accessible source for their future work.
4. Remember Press Releases Provide Value, But Not the Whole Story
Many of the emails I received and ignored had one thing in common: they were press releases. Instead of telling me a story or showing me why the press release contained information valuable to my site’s readers, I clicked delete. While press releases can be valuable for providing detailed information, they can’t stand alone. I responded much more positively to emails when they contained a customized greeting and message, in addition to the meat of the company’s story.
5. Highlight Your Strategic Differences
What can someone do to differentiate themselves in a sea of PR pitches?
Since the passage of the Farm Bill, CBD companies are popping up everywhere and as a journalist, my inbox is flooded with pitches. As a PR manager, it’s becoming more challenging to place stories for clients because journalists are being inundated with similar pitches.
To combat this creatively and strategically, think about what makes your company different from other companies before you begin a PR campaign. Consider your backstory. What is unique that drove you to the business? Do you have unique certifications or a socially-forward mission?
In addition to your company and its story, consider your target consumer. What makes them unique in the marketplace? Are you serving a previously underserved market, or do you give back to your community in a meaningful way?
Curious about how to further your company’s story and gain positive news stories about your brand? Let me know on our social media pages what you think about my advice above and stay tuned for more pitching tips!