How do I pitch my story to a journalist?

It’s a common question all journalists are asked at any work or social occasion. It’s the media equivalent of an HR exec being quietly asked by a small business owner how they legally fire a difficult employee, without getting sued.

Fortunately, for businesses wondering “how can I get my story in the media” there is a simple exercise that will start you off in the right direction.

It starts off by putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist. There will be fewer of them in a newsroom than in the past and they’re almost certainly having to produce more stories to tighter deadlines. Newspapers have become like television stations. It’s not one edition per day, it’s about all-day rolling news.

What do journalists want in a pitch?

Every contact with a journalist is an elevator pitch.

If you’re still wondering if they’d like to hear all about your company and how it was formed. Think again. If you’re hiring a PR person to ask if they’re free for a coffee to pick their brains. Think again.

So think, what is the story and why should they be interested in it? Is there a news hook, a timeliness to it? What will readers find truly fascinating?

Then tell it from the top down. Detail can come later but if you don’t get over the hook in the first line, forget it.

Check out my communications page and you’ll see stories such as the start-up with a nanomaterial that holds out hope of freeing diabetics from daily injections. In conversations with the CEO, she referred to it as looking and behaving like a “teabag”.

So, that was the hook right there. “Hi X, Got a great story for you about the “tea bag” that could spare diabetics the daily chore on insulin injections”.

The detail could follow but that was the pitch and that’s what made the headline in Sifted.

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