A newsroom is a very busy place and your press release can easily get lost in the floods of emails and calls arriving in. To help you increase the chances of your story getting picked up, we’ve decided to put together some pitching tips from journalists.
From keeping the most interesting content at the top, to ensuring there are accompanying images – here are the top tips from the people who actually read your press releases!
1. Sean Defoe – Senior Reporter with Newstalk
Keep it short. Put the most interesting line at the top. Let us know who’s available for interview. Put a number on the press release (you’d be surprised how often there’s no contact number) and pick up your phone when we ring!
2. Evanne Ní Chuilinn – Sports Broadcaster with RTE
Make it real, find the basic human level and start there. The simplest stories are the best. Then just be one heck of a good story teller.
3. Paul O’Donoghue – Staff Reporter with Fora.ie
Find out the name of the person you’re pitching to. Don’t pitch unsuitable stories (E.g. crime stories to a business website). Following up with a call is good, but don’t keep pestering busy editors. Send stuff early in the day so editors can look at it before putting together news lists.
4. Ben Terry – Producer with 3News
If you’re pitching to a TV news station try to think of ways that make the journalists job easier. Will it make a good photo opportunity? Is there a case study to help personalise the story? Is there an opportunity to interview the experts/spokespeople quoted on a press release? Try to think about what makes a good TV news story (punchy pictures, interesting stories etc) and think about what you can do to help provide those elements.
5. Rebecca Maher – Journalist with the Galway Independent
Be aware of your audience and who you are pitching to. Keep things short and snappy but make sure you get enough information across so the editor knows what exactly the piece is about.
While an email is good they can often fall through the cracks so establishing a contact(s) within the media outlet you are pitching to is so important. Be persistent – email, phone, meet in person, whatever it takes. A good journalist is nothing if not persistent!
6. Gavin Reilly – Political Correspondent with Today FM
Know your audience. Different media suit different formats – a good feature about the background to a significant process will always find a home, but lends itself to different media – it would certainly be tricky to pull off an item like that in radio because there are no visual cues whatsoever. But that doesn’t mean there are other stories that aren’t better suited to radio than to TV, because sometimes a visual cue is irrelevant and it’s the method that matters.
7. Catherine Healy – Reporter with The Sunday Business Post
Keep introductions short and concise. Tailor pitches to individual publications – one outlet might be more interested in a business angle, while another may be more likely to pick up on a human story.
Images are especially important for magazines, so include a selection of good quality options along with press releases if you can.
8. Geraldine Lynagh – News Reporter and Anchor with 3News
Most journalists have a very short attention span, so any pitch has to be short, snappy and to the point. Sum up the news line in a sentence or two, and if you’re sending an email, make sure it’s not longwinded. We get hundreds of press releases every day and delete most of them. The ones I read are the ones that tell me quickly why this story is newsworthy and important. Also, case studies are so useful. Provide me with an example of someone who is affected by whatever the story is about, and you have a much greater chance of me contacting you.
You can read all these interviews in full on our blog.
So now you’ve got some handy tips to put to use when you’re sending out the next press release. Keeping informed on the media landscape is important, especially at the rate that journalism is evolving.