The goal of building relationships with the local media is to get what you both ultimately want: a compelling story. Once you understand what makes a good story and have identified local spokespeople to provide human interest, you’re ready to pitch the media.
“Pitching” means knowing when and how to share your story idea with a reporter and how to personally follow up on a news release or announcement your chapter sends out. This important step is often overlooked, but is a key component to ensuring your story lands.
Below are some pitching best practices and tips on what NOT to pitch to the media to build and maintain strong media relationships.
- Consider timing. Earlier in the week is recommended if possible (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday), allowing the reporter time to set up interviews in the later half of the week. Earlier in the day is also recommended – between the hours of 9 am and 11 am local time. Do not wait until the end of the day to pitch a reporter, as your email will likely become buried deep in their inbox.
- If you have a newsworthy chapter event you’d like a reporter to attend, be sure to provide a few days' notice – waiting until the day of the event to pitch a reporter will decrease the likelihood of attendance.
- If you have an annual event you’d like a reporter to attend, do not pitch unless there’s some sort of new element to the event that makes it different from last year. If there’s nothing new, it's not newsworthy.
- If you are going to pitch a newsworthy story to the press, BE SURE to include these details: who, what, when, where and why.
- Human interest (i.e. voices and people) is one of the components that make a good story. If a reporter wants to do an interview, it is helpful if you have already identified local spokespersons from your chapter who are willing to participate. Providing solid, quotable sources that will respond to time-sensitive requests for interviews increases the chances of the reporter doing the story and helps build your relationship – and the likelihood of being contacted again.
- Do not overwhelm a reporter with unnecessary details. Provide an interesting story, but also be clear and to the point when pitching. Reporters are often sorting through hundreds of emails daily, so incorporate those who, what, when, where and why details as well as the newsworthy story elements and you’ll have yourself a solid pitch!
- Have a few main points that you’d like to get across ahead of time before you reach out to the reporter. Consider writing down three key facts or statistics that summarize why the reporter should listen / be interested.
- Practice. Whether it's in the mirror or with a friend, family member or fellow chapter volunteer, practice and refine your pitch.
- Be sure that your pitch is conversational and concise; don’t ramble. At the end, make the ask: Are you interested? Can I schedule an interview or send you some additional information?
- If the content you’re pitching is relatively timely, be sure to follow up with an email in a day or two. The recommended number of follow-up emails is between one and two. If you don’t receive a response after the second email, it’s okay – the news cycle is competitive. It’s all a process.
As always, our public relations team (firstname.lastname@example.org) is here to provide additional guidance as needed. Thank you for sharing your chapter’s success and accomplishments!