Your project is your child. And like every parent, you think it’s special, and that everyone should love it like you do.
The hard reality is, media will never love your “baby” like you do.
In fact, they can barely stand most other people’s children. They spend their lives forced to look at baby pictures (pitches) of people they don’t know or worse, can’t stand.
Is it a wonder they’re known as a grumpy lot?
You’d be grumpy too if your inbox were awash with people wanting you to feature their babies, and there wasn’t a cute one among them.
The problem is, most people are so blinded by what they see in their brand, they don’t think it through from the needs of the media outlet or reporter.
It takes the same thing to win over media that it does the public directly. You need to tell a better story.
1. Understand your audience:
Think of your pitch as a thoughtful gift. It’s their house. You’re a guest. You’ll only get invited if you add to the party.
That means knowing what your audience (a particular journalist) needs to be able to give their audience. What’s going to help the people they serve? What will entertain them, surprise them, shock them or otherwise engage them. Better yet, add to a conversation the journalist or outlet is already having with its people.
Don’t just tread old ground. Forward the conversation in some meaningful way. Offer a fresh take, a new understanding. Do that and you’re golden.
2. Use stories:
People believe what they discover much more than what you tell them. Media aren’t any different. Our brains are hardwired to understand story and find meaning.
Story adds context and meaning. It gives media a glimpse into the type of story they can tell and gets their brains working on possibilities.
Being able to include a ready-made story and the names and contact info of people who could be subjects for their story will immediately catapult you ahead of the vast majority of pitches media get.
This one seems obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people go out even on big, costly campaigns without a clear understand of their objectives. They have a vague notion of some ideal or they’ve thought it through emotionally only, wanting to change how people feel about something based on one person’s desire to get a personal message out.
These campaigns often spend a lot of money and have no lasting benefit other than serving the ego of the person in charge.
A good campaign has clear goals, measurable objectives, messages that are based on researched and nuanced understanding of where the publics are, demographically, geographically, emotionally and intellectually with a firm understanding of where you want them to go.
4. Give them the tools they need:
Most people think that they can just hand an idea to media, and they’ll run with it. It really never was that way but with cutbacks and fewer people expected to do way, way more, you have to have compelling elements that will help them tell their stories.
Have a great media kit. It should offer clear, concise information, good stories and, above all, have amazing visuals they can run with.
5. Don’t diss your audience:
The number of times I see people write angry Facebook posts or tweets about the media refusing to cover their stories is somewhat staggering. And it’s dumb. Your relationship is like any other. You wouldn’t ask someone out, slam them, and then ask them out again down the line.
Yes, some outlets are philosophically predisposed to one sort of story over another. It’s your job to give them the stories they want, not to change their entire way of being.
And if they don’t go for your story, use it as an opportunity to dig down and find a better one. Dissing them or a blanket condemnation of “the media” itself just makes you look unprofessional, naive and not ready for the big leagues.
In the end, media are looking after the interests of those they serve. And they’re doing it with fewer resources. Make their jobs easier. Tell a compelling story and help them do the same.
Do that, and you’ll totally rock your media outreach.