Research - The key to interview pitches

Essentials of a good media pitch

I was previously an editor of a business trade magazine. The occasional pitch will

show up in my inbox.

After some time, these emails start reading the same.

This is what my company does. You should interview my CEO.

He is an industry expert. What do you think?

Callously, I’d drag and drop the mail into the “Trash” bin.

Today, I have switched from journalism and transitioned into the public relations (PR)


Like many in the industry who strive to secure media coverage, we know that a good

story is one that intrigues readers. We are also aware that an article in a top

publication can make or break a company’s reputation.

However, most PR people seek the easy way out, and instead, bang out bland

pitches – those that underscore the company’s success, while neglecting the

relevance to the publication’s audience.

The result – an appalling response rate.

The sales pitch, blanket emails, excessive buzz words... just will not suffice.

However, this does not need to be the outcome. Simply, sufficient research is what

can make a difference.

Some of the tips I have learnt since moving over to the “dark side” is to:

1. Stay updated

The media lives off trending topics. A pitch that contains these topics will make

the journalist more compelled to move forward with the conversation.

A habit that I have to stay on top of current news is to subscribe to google alerts,

monitor social media and receive push notifications from news and industry

apps. These tools have allowed me to keep up with some of the latest

developments across industries.

2. Define the target audience

As communicators, the majority of our work involves conveying key messages to

the right audience. A story about the latest cybersecurity solution will sound

awkward to a stay-at-home mother.

Take time to understand the publication and editor’s interests, preferences, and

media consumption behaviour. This will create a more accurate picture of the

editor and media title, to share a pitch with.

3. Research on the journalist

Each journalist covers a different beat. Researching on a media contact prior to

reaching out will help align a pitch with what the reporter covers.

A practice I have is to read previous stories by the journalist prior to drafting the

pitch. This gives me a sense of the person behind the story, an indication of how

I might proceed with the pitch, and whether he or she is the right person to cover

the story.

The role of a PR specialist is not only about building brands and defending a

company’s reputation.

We are here to partner with journalists to produce high quality articles and content

that matter to their readers. Provide exclusive stories that are valuable to a

publication’s reader; give access to spokespeople to fill columns; offer soundbites

that will present a balanced story.

A successful pitch requires investment in time and effort. Besides bragging “This is

what my company does”, we can do so much more.

#career #interview #pitch #tips