You might be wondering:“What is a Media Pitch, exactly?
In its simplistic form, a media pitch is: your ‘ask’.You have some news (say, some interesting data on your industry) worthy of piquing the curiosity of the journalist you are pitching to and you ‘ask’ them if they would be interested in writing an article about it or mentioning it in their regular stories.
But there’s a catch…
Journalist and Forbes contributor Mikal E. Belicove, who shifts through two dozen pitches a day, says most of them are fatally flawed. “…pitches that serve no real purpose, or news announcements that have no basis in fact, or bulletins that make preposterous claims,” says Belicove in 13 Do’s And Don’ts When Pitching To The Media.
Journalists receive dozens of pitches in a day and therefore only look at those that are relevant, newsworthy, brief, structured and timely.
Why a Media Pitch?
Why pitch media? Who cares?
As you already know: mention in a top media outlet – blog, news site, mainstream newspaper or TV channel – makes a huge impression on your prospects and customers.
It also enhances the trustworthiness and reputation of your brand.
It gets better:
You can also get backlinks from major publications.
A backlink from a large publication will improve your site ranking and authority, which in turn will bring more qualified leads and customers.
I recently wrote a case study on Moz and another one on SEMRush about how I was able to get Pipedrive to outrank Wikipedia for the word “sales management” through a guest blogging strategy.
Identifying the Right Content
To make a valuable media pitch, you first need to know what type of content will be of interest to your target publications and/or journalists you plan to pitch.
There are three ways you can identify this:
1) See what topics are popular on your target news site
First identify what your target publication is writing about or what they consider as ‘newsworthy’.
Begin by segregating your target publication list into two tiers:
Top-tier: These are popular sites people would immediately recognize. Think NYT, Forbes, HuffingtonPost, etc. If you’re targeting a particular industry, these would be big industry brands (like TechCrunch for startups).
Mid-tier: These are authoritative sites in their own niche, but may not have the same name recognition. Think NYPost and Diply (for general news/entertainment).
Studying these publications gives you an idea of what publishers want and help you frame your content accordingly.
To see what your target publications are writing about do a simple site search of the publication’s URL.
This will give you the top sections and popular stories from that news source.
Let’s use the Huffington Post as an example:
As you can see, ‘Videos,’ ‘Taste,’ and ‘Parenting’ sections are popular on HuffPost.
That’s not to say your story must apply to these sections.
A site search is the foremost place to begin researching a given media outlet and its website.
You also need to be familiar with the reporters and writers who cover specific sections (but more about that in a bit).
2) Identify Popular Content
I can’t emphasize this enough:
Understand what sort of articles are being read and shared by the majority of readers on your target publications.
This is an invaluable insight that you can use when creating and pitching content!
A tool like BuzzSumo can show you the most shared content on any domain within a specified time frame.
To use it, enter your target publication’s name in the search box and select your time frame in the left pane.
Here you can see some of the stories HuffPost readers shared most within the last year:
You can also enter keywords along with the domain name to limit your search to specific topics.
For example, searching for “techcrunch.com big data” shows the best-performing articles on TechCrunch on big data.
This search result clearly shows that most top performing articles are actually opinion pieces.
If you were planning to get covered on TechCrunch for this topic, a thought piece could be of interest to this publication.
Generally speaking, journalists like the following types of content:
Visual assets and stories
Exclusive studies and surveys
Data-backed stories and analysis
You could take the search a step further to see whether a particular topic or specific story repeats itself (indicative of its popularity); continues to intrigue consumers over an extended period of time; or is among the news source’s most popular pieces of content.
3) Figure out content ideas people are already linking to
A highly effective way to get backlinks is to discover content ideas by identifying what people are already linking to.
You can use Ahrefs’ content explorer tool to do this. This works just like Buzzsumo, except it also takes into account the total number of links.
You can use it to see find the most linked-to content for a specific keyword.
For example, when you search for “content marketing” and sort the results by the number of referring domains, you get this:
Notice that two of the most linked-to content pieces are essentially lists of statistics.
This isn’t exactly “exciting” or “innovative” as far as content formats go, yet they attract a lot of links.
Identifying the Right Publications and Journalists
The next step in the process is to make a list of prospects – journalists, writers and media sources.
This list can be as extensive or as limited as your resources permit.
Your prospect list will depend on the kind of content you’re trying to promote.
If the content is of interest to a broad audience, it might fit well on any of the large news/entertainment blogs (think Buzzfeed, HuffPost, etc.).
For more specialized content (say, a study on content marketing trends), you’ll want to target industry-specific publications and influencers.
A quick tip: When looking for targets, it’s always a good idea to focus on engagement than traffic.
It’s better to get a feature on a site with 1,000 readers who share your content than a site with 1M readers that has no engagement.
Here are few strategies to find high quality prospects:
1) Find sites that are linking to similar content
Find similar content and see who all have linked to it. This is an easy way to discover targets.
For example, if you plan to do a study on “content marketing trends”, you can Google this keyword, see the top results, and plug them into your favorite SEO tool.
Add relevant modifiers like “study”, “research”, “data”, etc. to this keyword to narrow down your results.
In the above case, searching for “content marketing trends study” shows this CMI research from 2016. Plugging this into Ahrefs and looking at the referring domains shows us more than 385 targets:
These could be your potential targets for reaching out.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to target them all, just the ones with substantial domain authority (DA).
2) Use Nuzzel
Nuzzel is a great tool for finding curated content on popular topics. Use it to discover influencers, top stories and trending publications.
For example, this is Nuzzel’s curated feed for “wearable technology”:
3) Use JustReachOut
JustReachOut is really relevant to find high quality prospects as it gives you a list of journalists who have written about your specific topic, not just publishers.
To use JustReachOut, just search for your target keyword (say, “bitcoin”) and you’ll see a list of journalists and bloggers along with their contact details. You can send them an email pitch directly through JustReachOut.
4) Other tactics
There are hundreds of ways to bell this cat. Apart from the above, you can also try these tactics:
Search Reddit to find relevant subreddits. Then sort results by “top” to find links from popular sites that have covered similar topics.
Use tools like RightRelevance to find trending stories in your industry. These could be great publications to target.
Here are four strategies on how to start that initial conversation and build a relationship with your journalist:
1) Become a source for an article
There are tons of journalists and bloggers who are regularly writing articles in your niche and they need a quote from an expert.
You are an expert in your niche. So use this to your advantage.
Use HARO to find a relevant request and respond to that question.
If you provide value to the journalist they will remember you as an expert in this field.
This is the easiest way to start a conversation with a writer.
2) Comment on Quora or Reddit
This is a goldmine for meeting journalists in your niche and starting conversations.
Go to Quora or Reddit and type in a term like “SEO” to find questions that people are asking about in your niche.
Answer those questions and engage with other like-minded people who are also answering these similar questions.
You can then ask a journalist to answer a particular question because they are more of an expert than you.
The best part?
This works brilliantly as a conversation starter, plus you’re giving them an opportunity to give back to the community.
You can then thank them for the answer and get the ball rolling.
3) Provide data or insights
Send an email to the journalist with some research data or insight you have about a topic they write about. Ask for their feedback.
Take a look at this email:
Based on this email, the journalist used the data to write this article:
4) Interview the experts
This is dead simple. Include them in a roundup of “experts” and ask their opinion on a hot recent news.
By giving journalists the expert tag, you give them a chance to brand themselves plus appeal to their vanity.
That’s not all…
You not only have a conversation starter, your roundup post can be shared by the journalists you have quoted or used as material for bigger, more in-depth stories on that topic.
Composing your Media Pitch
While every email will vary, your media pitch needs to:
Demonstrate that you regularly read and are familiar with the media outlet.
Show you have read articles written by the journalist (Mention individual articles and pull quotes from within.)
Prove you have an understanding of the media source’s readership as well as what topics and stories are most valuable and shared (Refer to your use of BuzzSumo, etc.)
Clearly align your provided statistics, insight, or information with the reporter’s current beat, interests, and most popular articles (Make it easy for them to see the reason you’re contacting them and why they should be happy about it.)
Provide them with all the details they need to make an immediate decision about the information and you as a reputable source (Provide your email, phone number, links to referred information as well as any applicable references to your expertise.)
A quick tip: Email endings are just as important as the first sentence.
It gets better:
An interesting sign off to your email will not only leave a favorable impression on your recipient but also increase your chances of a response.
While a successful media pitch can be written in many ways, here’s an example of what works well:
Hi Dr Klass,
Being an avid reader of the Times’ parenting section, I’ve ‘knitted through’ (haha) several of your articles of late. As per my Twitter share and comment, I was especially affected by your story on speaking to kids about online pornography.
I know providing parenting information, especially regarding young children, is close to your heart and position as a pediatrician. I thought you may be interested in the following statistics about Cybersecurity and parenting younger children as my company has been collecting data on such over the last five years…
Post Pitch Tactics
Once you have sent your media pitch, wait for a reply or schedule a follow-up several days later.
Most reporters and professionals are busy people with a lot of their plate.
If the journalist uses your information and its source, great news. Thank them for using your content and keep the conversation rolling.
On the other hand, he may not be interested in that particular content or information at that moment.
In that case, keep communication channels open and continue to build your rapport for future opportunities.
If you don’t get any replies to your media pitches, assess where the process went wrong. Did you:
Select the right media outlet and person of interest
Provide value regarding a timely and popular topic
Make it easy for the recipient to get to relayed information (copy and paste versus providing attachments or making recipients click to a URL.)
Over to You
Pitching to the media is not as complicated, daunting, or intimidating as you may think.
In fact, it can be as easy as sharing information you know will be appreciated by a colleague.
Know what your target publication, their writers and readers deem as important news then go ahead and create valuable content for them.
Next, initiate a personalized conversation with your prospect journalist and go ahead and make your pitch!
Follow these steps and see your response rates soar!
I solemnly swear to not do anything weird with it. I just want a chance to send you my best material about PR, SEO, influencer and content marketing. Sometimes I’ll give you early access to new projects.