Recently, a colleague generously shared a media list with me, and instead of contacting the individuals instantly; I looked up every journalist, blogger, and media outlet on there. Why? Life changes from day to day and so does the media industry. One day someone is working in a particular department, the next, they may have moved on to another position or even re-located to a different country. You also want to ensure that the journalists and outlets you are contacting are appropriate to your project, and the goals you have in mind by reaching out to them in the first place. Just because a writer’s name is on a media list, does not necessarily mean that your project fits their coverage topics. I met a blogger a few days ago and right away I asked “What beats do you cover?” Fortunately for me, she writes about culture, and so I will be following up, soon. Here’s a little guide on what you should be looking for when preparing to pitch and some tips:
1) Check out some of the previous work in reference to the members of the press you are targeting. If they cover arts, entertainment and culture, contact them.
2) Ensure everyone that you are contacting is in fact on the staff for the particular outlet.
3) Does a press outlet only cover area-specific events? For example, some outlets will cover certain neighborhoods and communities; others are global, and feature stories from all over the world.
4) You have the name and contact information for the editor-in-chief of a publication, great, but don’t contact them before reading the outlet. If there is an editor that manages the particular topic of your project, that’s who you want to contact; examples, sports, visual arts, literature, government, etc.
5) Don’t forget to look into college press outlets. Their readership/viewers are hundreds of students looking for fun outings and events.
6) Find interesting angles about your project and provide a description of why it’s unique. Remember, everyone is contacting media professionals for a story, so yours needs to stand out in order to seal the deal.
Don’t assume. When you pitch to an outlet be very clear about why you’re contacting them. A review? A listing? An invitation? Journalists are extremely busy and if they’re not sure what your pitch is about, they’ll most likely move on to something else.
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