How an Internship in News Media Changed the Way I Pitch to Journalists

You spend hours crafting your pitch; you know it’s perfect. Unfortunately, a flawless email isn’t enough when it comes to pitching to journalists these days. As future public relations practitioners, we need to work smarter when it comes to media pitching. During an internship with Iowa Public Radio (IPR), I learned a few things that changed the way I draft a pitch for journalists.

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Know who you’re pitching to.

The more pitches you send the more coverage, right? Well, not exactly. Forwarding your pitch to a random selection of journalists is like shooting in the dark. You have to be selective and choose your journalists wisely. Spend some time researching journalists from the outlet you selected. What’s their beat? What type of topics do they normally cover? Are there certain topics they don’t cover? Similar to knowing your audience, knowing your journalist is critical if you’re looking for a successful pitch, otherwise your email is heading to the trash.

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

Your narrative could be fantastic, but it could cost you coverage. In today’s 24-hour news world, journalists are constantly receiving pitches and if yours is complicated it’s likely they won’t even bother. Make it easier for them by bulleting your information and placing the most important information at the top of the email. Want to test it out? Ask someone to read your pitch. If they’re struggling to tell you what it’s about after 10 seconds, it’s probably not clear enough.

Include the basics.

This might seem obvious, but it’s necessary. When pitching, double (even triple) check that you’ve included all the basic information. More importantly, make sure the information is correct. Everything including event details, dates, addresses, phone numbers, brief descriptions and contact information should be featured in plain sight (did I mention media contact info?). Nothing is worse than picking up a pitch to later find out that some piece of information was wrong.

Since my time with IPR, I’ve been able to craft better pitches for journalists by putting myself in their shoes. Looking at your pitch from a different angle can be challenging, but it does allow you to fill in gaps in your information. Above all, pitching is skill that can be improved and with more practice (and some research) you’ll be pitching like a pro.

Mallory Feeney a senior majoring in public relations at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and serves the Chapter president of UNI PRSSA. Find out more by following her on Twitter or connecting on LinkedIn.

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