The Media Pitch: How to Get Noticed In the Newsroom

If you want your event or company covered by the media, you aren’t alone! Thousands of emails and phone calls flood newsrooms every day, each with a story idea or media pitch looking for coverage. One of our mavens used to be on the receiving end of those pitches when she worked as a producer in a tv newsroom. Now, she’s pulling back the curtain and revealing seven things that can help you win media coverage. 

Clearly State the Five Ws (And H) Of Your Media Pitch

The five Ws (and H) are a journalist’s best friends. As soon as you can fit them all in, it is essential to state the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how.” Whether writing a press release or just sending a story pitch email for coverage, you need to include it all. If a producer or editor has to guess about these details, you’ve likely lost your opportunity. 

Don’t Bury the Lead

It may seem obvious, but your story’s hook should be clear, or you’ll lose the attention of your reader. Ensure the first two sentences of your media pitch include relevant information and not “fluff,” a media term for unnecessary detail and not marshmallowy goodness.

Be Strategic with the Timing of Your Media Pitch

The “when” of your media pitch should also be as strategic as possible. Newsrooms usually have two pitch meetings every day at 9 AM and approximately 2:30 PM. You’ll want to make sure your press release or story idea is in hand before those times. 

These meetings are coverage planning meetings and usually mandatory, so avoid calling a media contact or hosting an event where you anticipate media coverage during those times, if possible. 

If you’re holding an event where you want coverage, you’ll want to be aware of the newscast schedule. For example, most TV news stations will have broadcast at 5,6 and 7 PM, where news crews will be busy and unable to attend events. Setting the time of your event to be mid-morning or mid-afternoon will help your chances of getting a news van on site and getting the coverage you want.

If It Isn’t Relevant to the Reporter, It Isn’t Relevant to Their Audience

Knowing the “angle” or “why” of your media pitch is arguably the most crucial factor when it comes to securing coverage in a news cycle. Why should a news outlet talk about your story today? If you can speak to a local issue or be a regional voice for a national story that is taking place today, you have a good chance of media coverage. 

Make Someone Available for Interview

If you have an industry expert or point of contact that you can designate and even set up an available time for an interview, this will improve your chances of coverage. Print and TV both need a source to speak with and want visuals for their story. If you can have one person ready for them, they will find it easier to work with you. 

Choose The Right Outlet

The (non-marshmallowy) concept of fluff is an important one to remember. If you don’t have a hard news story to pitch, you may reconsider where you send your pitch or press release. Different stations and publications have different news mentalities. Make sure you are pitching to one that will cover your story. While “the top 10 dog collars for your cockapoo best friend” makes for a great Buzzfeed-style article, you’re not likely to find success with CBS or the Washington Post.

Make Friends in Newsy Places

Knowing the newsroom audience is essential, but knowing who can help you shepherd your story to the right players inside the newsroom. Often newsrooms have beat reporters, which means they strictly cover their “beat” and don’t cover much outside of that particular topic or focus. If your media pitch fits into a specific coverage focus, make sure you know who that person is and even go as far as building a relationship with them. This can serve you and them well.