I often see this question crop up occasionally on online forums and arts & culture social media groups: How to pitch to journalists?
Since both Ista and I manage Eksentrika and we also work with media organisations, we frequently receive pitches and press releases that request coverage on arts & culture activities, events, album and book launches, and more.
We’ve also noticed that many arts & culture practitioners struggle with some of the best practices. This post has 5 useful tips to pitch to journalists for media coverage that’ll raise your probability of being featured by news organisations and magazines.
Alright, let’s dive into the 5 useful tips to pitch to journalists for media coverage.
News organisations and lifestyle magazines are always on the lookout for pitches that are out of the ordinary.
The reason? The more interesting a pitch is, the higher the chances of people clicking into the article to read. And the more people click on an article, the better the chances of people supporting you and the better it is for these media companies to get advertisers as well. It’s a win-win.
Your pitch has to be unique and compelling. It’s crucial to look at your latest book, album or event and figure out why it is important for people to know what you’re doing and how your creative creations can benefit them and society at large.
It’s good to add fun facts or trivia in your press releases or pitch because they might spark an interesting headline. Be sure that your pitch is written in a simple, organised, and easy to understand manner. Avoid jargons and buzzwords.
If you’re looking to get featured on several media platforms, it’s beneficial to pitch to all of them differently. If you can, avoid offering a “one-size fits all” angle and try to diversify.
Angling is a term used by journalists to refer to the different ways of framing a perspective in writing a newspiece. This can apply to your pitches too.
For example: If you recently published a fiction book, you can pitch about the theme or issue the book explores to Media Company A. For Media Company B, you can pitch interesting trivia about your book that might be of interest to their readers.
As for Media Company C, you can pick one trivia from your list and expand on it for your pitch.
This method is useful because not only would your media coverage be diverse, media companies would also appreciate the fact that their coverage of you is uniquely different from their competitor’s.
This brings me to my second tip: It’s super important to research the media companies you’re pitching to.
Many don’t bother taking the time to read the type of content media companies publish and blindly pitch. This not only greatly decreases your chances of getting published, it could potentially put you in the “blocked list” of some journalists and editors.
Instead of mass spamming, a trick is to identify 5 to 10 media companies that already publish content that are similar to your pitch idea. Then, craft a unique angle or storytelling around your idea to increase the chances of getting noticed by those media houses.
With this method, you are essentially creating a list of media platforms that are suited to providing coverage for you, that you can keep track of and follow-up with.
It’s also a great way to understand what kind of angles will be of interest to them and help you get better at attracting attention.
Speaking of follow-ups, journalists and editors often receive an average of 50 pitches daily, more if they are from larger organisations. On top of chasing after deadlines and multi-tasking, they also frequently receive a myriad of text messages and phone calls from various sources.
In short, they’re extremely busy people.
Level 1: After you’ve sent in a pitch, start with email reminders, spacing the first and second reminder between five and seven days.
Level 2: If the emails do not get a response, send a text reminder and limit this to a text a day. Cap it to two texts and space them between two to three days.
Level 3: If your texts were ignored, call them once to check and again on a subsequent day, to finalise.
Start at Level 1 and only move up the levels if your attempts at contacting the media practitioner go unanswered. Keep your communication short, friendly, and straight to the point.
In the event you’ve exhausted all the levels and they’re still not reachable, it simply means that you need to look for coverage opportunities elsewhere.
In case you’re curious why the journalists or editors weren’t reachable, there could be multiple factors ranging from your pitch being buried under an overwhelming number of other pitches in the media practitioner’s inbox, to a glitch in the system or simply that, your pitch is not compatible with the media organisation’s values.
Sometimes, it could also be that the person you hope to reach is on vacation or sick leave. After all, they may be called media, but they’re still people too.
Don’t worry, there’s a workaround to these perceived setbacks.
Alright, so you’ve got several different angles and you’ve also created a list of the media companies you’ll be pitching to.
The next few things might appear insignificant but optimising them will greatly increase the chances of getting noticed.
For starters, the email header: Ensure it is conversational and personable. Adding the names of the editors or journalists in the subject header can work wonders.
By the way, this is a super helpful video on email etiquette that you should check out.
Whatever you do, don’t ever stagger your emails. Keep all of your correspondence in the same thread for your recipient’s easy reference.
If you’ve got several points to make, turn them into bullet points. They look neater and less overwhelming.
Another important suggestion I have is to include 7 to 10 high-resolution and attractive visuals related to your pitch.
These visuals should include images of the people involved (be sure to include their names, roles, and also credit the photographers), behind-the-scenes visuals, and visuals of the event/product/service.
Make sure that all of the visuals are different in terms of style, angles, and color. Avoid dark or similar-looking visuals.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to snap these images (although it’s actually a really good investment), you can snap these images in brightly lit spaces with your smartphone.
Feel free to adjust the colors and contrast via any of the freely available photography apps, but avoid getting too creative to the point that your visuals turn out looking like fantastical art pieces.
Larger media and news organisation typically have their own photo departments that are in charge of editing and ensuring the quality of visuals. Smaller media, however usually do not. Either way, good visuals alongside your pitch can greatly increase your chances of getting published.
Typically, it’s good practice to accompany information about yourself and/or your organisation with these visuals.
Copied and pasted from Eksentrika.