PR 365: How To Pitch A Newspaper

By: PR 365

If you’re trying hard to land a story in your local newspaper but have been coming up empty, here are some tried and true tips to help you make an impact and land a placement.

1. Start with Your Local Newspaper or Family Parenting Guide. If you have a brand new product or book about to be released or if you’re a parenting expert, then focus on pitching media outlets in your own backyard. Parenting publications are always on the lookout for great local stories and you might be just the person they’re looking for.

2. Be persistent and helpful. I can’t tell you how many times I pitch the same people in mainstream media. While they may seem interested one moment, when you try to follow up it can take five, 10 even twenty correspondences with them to get a response and move forward towards a booking or an interview. The squeaky wheel does get the grease. But when you are reaching out, be aware of what they’re covering. Do not pitch something that they’d probably never feature. Do your research and hone in on the stories that you know would resonate with their readers.

3. Offer to contribute as a blogger to a Newspaper’s Web Pages. One of my favorite writers, Jenny Isenman at Suburban Jungle has found a great way to make an impact with local media. She contributes regularly as a guest blogger to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. Sure the newspaper could utilize some of their regular columnists but featuring someone who offers a fresh and sarcastic view of parenting fits the bill. Plus, that gives Jenny the opportunity to be connected to the publication so that if she wants to contribute content to the newspaper, they will more readily take and potentially accept her pitches.

4. Participate in Journchat with PRSarah Evans. This has become a fabulous find for me. Every Monday night from 7-10 pm ET on Twitter, PR guru Sarah Evans hosts Journchat a discussion with journalists, bloggers and publicists. This is your chance to be a fly on the wall and see what stories resonate with journalists and how publicists approach pitching them. Visit Tweetchat, enter #journchat and get ready to be informed.

5. Meet a reporter in person. If you’ve started to develop a web dialog with a reporter (you can find them on Twitter or via the website of their newspaper), take your professional relationship to the next level. Ask them to meet for coffee so that you can find out how you might prove to be a resource for them as you learn about the stories they’re working on. If they don’t have time to meet in person, then arrange a 10 minute phone call. Anyone can carve out 10 minutes from their day – no matter how busy they are. Just speak with them after their deadline – no reporter likes to be called while they are crashing on a story.

Incidentally, if you are looking to land a placement in a national publication such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times or USA Today, then you really should look into hiring a publicist. In this instance, the publicist who has direct connections to the reporters working on stories that make sense for your brand will help cut through the clutter, develop your pitch and land you the story you’ve been hoping for. If you’d like to find out some of my favorite publicists, I’ll be sharing a list of top PR gurus in our next post.

The bottom line when you’re pitching is to never give up. Of course, if someone says they’re not interested, that’s your cue to move on but that doesn’t mean you should call it quits. Do your homework, develop your pitch and before you know it, you may wind up making the news.