Updated: Oct 25, 2021
You emailed your pitch to a reporter and never heard back.
"If at first you don't succeeeeeeed...pick yourself up and try again." -Aliyah.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Anyway, it can be pretty daunting to pitch to a reporter, but if you know your story deserves to be seen it’s always worth it to keep trying– especially because there are a number of reasons your pitch may not have been picked up.
Some of these may be due to your actual pitch, while some are just due to the hectic nature of the newsroom.
Here are the top 5 reasons your pitch wasn't picked up:
Reason 1: They didn’t have the bandwidth for the story!
Reporters are busy. In many newsrooms, some reporters write 1-3 stories every single day. That means most days reporters are scheduled for several interviews, press conferences and meetings that same day. And that's before they get to work on the big stories that they actually want to work on. To be frank, the sheer amount of work in a newsroom keeps many pitches from ever being seen.
Keep an eye on the reporter you're pitching and make sure you're not just adding to their plate because you want to be published. Understand lulls in coverage (around holidays, Friday evenings, and on weekends) and take advantage of the slower times to get the coverage you need.
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Reason 2: It was too long
"Keep it simple, stupid."
It's a popular refrain for a reason. As we just went over above, reporters are busy people. If your pitch is long or wordy, some will just skim it– and that's if you're lucky. Most will simply toss it.
So keep your pitch brief and interesting. In fact, it's typically better for a reporter to ask for more information than for you to overload them and force them to find what's key. Employ formatting tricks like bullet points, bolding and italicizing font and use pictures or videos when you can to cut through the clutter and stand out in their inbox.
Reason 3: You pitched the wrong reporter or outlet
If your story is about your business, don't pitch a courts or an education reporter. Do your research and pitch the right people and/or outlets that cover you, your area and interests. You will almost never get a reporter to cover something outside of their beat. That's because because even if they wanted to, an editor will typically veto it. Find great beat reporters and stick with those. It's always easier to get coverage if a reporter already covers the same topic
Reason 4: You didn’t give them enough time
Reporters need to carve out time to do a good story so don't email them the same day. Give them time to pitch the story to their editor, do research, plan for the media and find the best way to tell the story. Some reporters may want to pre-interview you or they may even want to take your small story and make it a major headline, but you have to give them enough time to do their work.
You'd never call the doctor and expect a check-up the same day! The only way you'd get in is with an emergency. Same for journalists. Unless it's breaking news, most are already working on several stories and just can't meet your timing needs.
Reason 5: It wasn’t newsworthy
It hurts but maybe your story wasn't newsworthy. It could be old news, incorrect or just boring. If so, look at your pitch and revamp the components of it. Can you change the media? Change who is interviewed? Can you give reporters more time and pitch again? Don't give up on your pitch but do try to find a new path to getting it covered.
If you need some help writing better pitches, don't worry, Mañon Media is here!
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