At a time when media outlets appear to be generating more news content than ever, you’d be forgiven for thinking that any kind of media outreach will be successful, and you don’t need to put too much thought into how you go about it.
However, the reality is that newsrooms are inundated with content each and every day and it’s vital that you know how to stand out from the crowd.
A key part of this is pitching the right kind of content to your target outlet.
This includes knowing when to send a media release over an opinion piece, when to hold a media conference instead of sending a media pitch, or even when a direct phone call to a journalist is more appropriate than any other form of outreach.
To break it down even further, it’s also important to know which medium your story is suited to – whether it be print, online, television or radio – or perhaps a mixture of these – and pitch accordingly.
A lengthy opinion piece with no available images is unlikely to be of use to a television newsroom for example, in the same way that sending out a media release but not having an available spokesperson will likely not work for a radio program.
When considering what kind of media outreach you’re going to send, you must first consider the following factors;
- Timing: Is your story time specific, or will it remain current for a longer period of time? A story focusing on an event, for example, might be best suited to holding a media conference, while a story around a particular topical issue might be best presented as an opinion piece.
- Who is Your Available Talent: Is there more than one spokesperson available, or potentially a case study? Too many spokespeople might make a media release too overwhelming but might be exactly what a television newsroom is looking for if offered in an exclusive pitch. If your talent is not available in person perhaps it’s best to send a media release only to radio or print newsrooms.
- Images: What images or video do you have to accompany the story? Can you send vision to television newsrooms as part of a media release or is there an opportunity to showcase part of your story during a media conference? Don’t be put off by not having images – your story can still make a strong opinion piece or media release, where you can let your words paint the picture.
As well as the above factors, it’s also important to consider the news cycle more broadly when making decisions about media outreach.
If you’d like to address breaking news for example, it’s usually best to opt for a direct conversation with a journalist to act in a timely manner, as writing and sending a media release might take too long and the opportunity will be lost.
However, be mindful that journalists are extremely busy, and probably don’t require a phone call for a media release that will remain current for some days.
We’d love to tell you there’s an exact science to media outreach, where sending A to media outlet B will result in huge success every time, but it’s just not that simple.
However, knowing the subtle difference between what kind of piece to send to what particular outlet is often the difference between the media picking up your story or not, and perhaps more importantly, considering you for stories in the future.