Pitch Perfect: 6 questions to ask yourself before pitching to a journalist

Having a pitching strategy is crucial in winning top placements in the media. Journalists are essentially the ‘cool kids’ at school and you’re the outsider trying to score a seat at their lunch table. Getting that seat is no easy task, and for you to secure a regular spot you’re going to have to make a really good first impression. To grab a journalist’s attention and build up that content-based relationship, ask yourself these six quick questions before pitching.

1. Is it in the right type of English (Or language)?
English English? International English? Aside from looking professional, you are recommending a journalist runs your client’s piece over someone else’s, so getting on the right side of them is key. Make sure you know what language they speak before you contact them!

2. Do the links take them to the right places?
Journalists don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so make sure what you send is the right thing for them. Sending a Chinese journalist to a Swedish country site may not be the best start in building up that content relationship. Always get someone to double check before you click send.

3. Is there an opt-out?
It’s the law, so make sure you have one! Especially with GDPR coming into play next year.

4. Are you targeting the right people?
There’s very little you can do to rectify sending a bunch of transport publications a pitch on healthcare payments. This is likely to result in a lot of annoyed journalists and a bucket full of opt-outs. Once you’ve lost a journalist’s interest, it can be difficult to win them over again, if ever.

5. Is it engaging?
If the pitch is boring, journalists will probably assume the content is too. Why should they care about what you’re pitching? What interest is it to their readers? Journalists get flooded with hundreds of pitches every day, so make sure your message is interesting and on point.

6. Have you forgotten the small details?
Are you trying to phone an Australian journalist when they’re still in bed? Are you pitching during Spring Break? Are your execs free for an interview when you say they are? Getting these bits wrong is just going to make you look careless and amateurish.

Checking these six things is quick and simple, and can help boost your relationship with journalists. Don’t risk losing out on a top piece of coverage over something so trivial.

Jon Brown is a leading figure of the Pitch&Place team at IBA International.

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