PR 101: How to pitch your story to the media and why you should
Statistics suggest that campaigns that receive news coverage (either online or offline) raise 2 to 3 times more than campaigns that don’t. Furthermore, campaigns with news coverage also receive more anonymous donations. Examples of news covered campaigns include the Orly’s campaign and the Mama Jade campaign.
This blog post is going to teach you the basics of media outreach: news outlet selection, contact, email content, and follow up.
New outlet selection is very important, and it’s important to make sure your story is relevant to each outlet you pitch. For example, TechCrunch covers tech while TMZ covers gossip.
For basics, we recommend you tell your story to local newspapers because:
- They are easier to obtain coverage because they cover a niche area, so there will be less competition.
- Your story is likely to be about someone in the community, so it’s very relevant to the readers; therefore, very likely to be covered.
Local newspapers include community papers, county papers, municipal papers, and provincial/state media.
If you don’t know any local media sources in your area, a simple Google search termed “___ area newspaper” will give you plenty to choose from.
To ensure coverage, we recommend that you contact at least 15 to 20 media outlets (TV, newspapers, online news, radio). After all, the more people you pitch to, the more likely your story will be covered.
To contact a News outlet, you must first find their contact information. For most sites, the contact page is located in the footer. However, the contact page link isn’t always obvious, so you can use CTRL and F (for PCs) or command F (for MACs) to find the contact page link. Here is also a great article written by HubSpot that describes 3 ways to find any email address. There are also tools like MailTrack.io to help scan the internet for email addresses.Once you are on the contact page, you will be faced with usually 3 types of submission structures:
1) The simplest format is the the News Outlet giving you an email to submit your news tip/story. The email address will usually be tip@_____news.com or news@______news.com. You simply copy down the email address and send them your pitch.
2) The second type of format is a hosted submission box. This format is also very straightforward as you just copy and paste your story into the box and press send.
3) The third format is a long list of reporter/editor emails. For this format, you should look through the list and find the reporter/editor you think would cover your story. For example, if your story is about a new gadget, you should probably send the email the tech reporter. This format often has the general email address like Tip@____news.com available as well, so you could opt to send the story to the general email as well as a reporter’s email.
Note: Do NOT send your email to more than 2 reporters from the same site. It is recommended to just send to one reporter plus general tip or editorial email.
Although your email is telling a news outlet your story, the most important aspect is to emphasize how the story is relevant to a news outlet and why they should cover it.
Your pitch email should include the following:
- Reasons on why your story is relevant to a particular news outlet
- The main points of your story (Don’t be too long, just need to get the main points across. They are writing the story, not you, so just answer the big questions)
- Previous news coverage (links!)
- Links to your campaign
- Your contact information
Hi ____ (“reporter name” or “editor” for general email),
Given the holiday season and your previous coverage of local philanthropic stories, I thought I share with you an inspiring story of a 9 year old boy, who is raising money to buy pyjamas for kids in need.
The Christmas Pyjama Drive was born in 2010 out of the compassion of local boy, Reese Shelly. After discussing with his parents that not all children receive gifts at Christmas, Reese wanted to make Christmas a little brighter for disadvantaged children so he began collecting pyjamas. Together with Browns Restaurant Group, they were able to collect $45,000 or approximately 2250 sets pyjamas in 2012.
This year, the need for pyjamas is greater than ever, so Reese has decided to collaborate with online social funding platform, Fundrazr, to reach a bigger audience. Reese hopes to collect 3000 pairs of pyjamas and deliver them to local Christmas bureaus and charities in time for Santa’s yearly visit. You can find their FundRazr campaign here.
“Anyone who has received a pair of pyjamas when they were a kid knows how good it feels to leave some milk and cookies by the fireplace and then snuggle in for the night to wait for Santa.” (Todd Shelly (Reese’s father))
They have been covered in previous years by news outlets such as Global BC, News 1130, and Richmond News. Given the local angle, holiday spirit, and touching story, your readers would be interested in this story. To see their campaign and story, click here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/fePjf
For additional inquiries, please contact [Your Name] at [your email] or [phone number]
[name] [email] [phone]
You are not guaranteed to get coverage from a news outlet by just one email. Often, you would have to send the email 2 to 3 times before you receive a reply from the news outlet. We recommend sending a follow up email if you don’t hear back from a particular news outlet after 3 days to stay top of mind. Try not to send over 3 emails to the same reporter/news outlet.
Some news outlets will also have their phone numbers posted on their contacts page, so sometimes the easiest way to tell them your story is to give them a call right after sending your follow up email, while it’s still fresh.