Eight Quick Techniques for Pitching a Story to the Press

Empathizing with Reporters

Many companies compete to publish articles in local newspapers or national trade publication.  It can pose a daunting challenge, especially if the circulation is over about 50,000. Here are eight techniques you can employ to increase your chances.  

1. Call the editor before sending your release. 

Pitching your story ahead of time ensures you will stand out from the crowd. You should avoid voicemail at all times because it’s important to develop a relationship with the editor. 

2. Graphic support is an essential component of your story.

Use graphic support strategically to increase your chances but don’t send it you’re your initial pitch. If the editor seems unsure about your release, you can mention graphic support as an additional reason to publish the story. Also, offering graphic support gives you an excuse to call the editor again to check on publication. 

3. Pitch your story to the editor-in-chief.

This avoids a situation where lower-ranking editors pass the buck by referring your story to someone else. It’s always easier to get approval from one person than two. However, it’s just about impossible to get in touch with the editor-in-chief for publications with a circulation above 50,000. Then, a beat reporter in your field is the best bet. 

4. Persevere!

Call the editor at least once a week until you get a decision on the story. 

5. Provide the exact time of transmission.

After three follow-up calls, provide the exact time of transmission to help the editor find the story and offer to review it over the phone. At this point, the editor will start to feel guilty about not reviewing your story. 

6. Get a final decision.

Editors often avoid a final decision. If they promise eventual publication, try to find out the most likely issue so you can follow up if nothing appears. 

7. For bylined articles, offer to send an outline first.

This draws the editor into the process and increases your chances of publication if the outline is approved. 

8. Find the placement.

Always follow up to get the clipping. Even if the editor promises publication in a specific issue, it may not appear for “space considerations,” or an increase in advertising. If applicable, make sure the editor understands the story is not time-sensitive and you don’t mind waiting for eventual publication. 

Of course, in addition to the above points, your article must be well-written, follow the publication’s guidelines and be interesting/newsworthy for the reader. If these conditions are met, the techniques above should greatly increase your chances of publication.