Getting The Editor's Attention: How To Pitch Like A Pro




With the 24 hour news cycle hungry for new content, and traditional media closing their doors and losing audience share, the PR industry is shifting from a relationship base to quality content. 

Having worked in and around the PR industry for over 15 years, I've seen the emphasis shift from PR being about who you know, to how well you tell a story. No longer is it good enough for PR agencies to get their interns and grads to write sloppy media releases. Editors and producers are short staffed, and they no longer have journalists on tap to rework your media release. The campaigns that are most likely to earn coverage are those that are print ready, can be top and tailed by an editor, pitched to a producer and published with the exceptional audio visual content supplied. 

So what is the secret to getting an editor's attention and putting together a print or pitch ready package?

1. Find a new news angle - Opening a cafe isn't necessarily interested news. A new cafe opens every day. But opening a new cafe that introduces ramen to the Melbourne brunch scene may be something a bit more interesting. Find a new angle or interesting pact about the business, person or product you're looking to earn coverage for. This could be the founder, a unique product or a first for the industry. 

2. Target media thoughtfully - No one likes to get spam in their inbox. So only contact media that are likely to be interested in your story, and try to make it as relevant as possible to their publication or channel. While there are subscription based media list services, you can often find out a lot online today for free if you're clever. 

3. Make the headline snappy - If you can sum up your story in a single sentence, it's too long! You've got 5 seconds to get an editor's attention in their in box, so make sure you get their attention with the subject line. Instead of "New cafe opens in high street Melbourne"...try..."Lotus introduces ramen to the Melbourne brunch scene."

4. Write like a journalist - The best news stories can be chopped from the bottom up. Write your media release like you're a journalist so that the copy can be published directly with minimal editing. Get your most interesting and important info out in the fi rst sentence, then drip feed the less interesting information as you go down. Big reveals at the end should be left for novels. 

5. Include exceptional images or videos - If there's a stunning image or video accompanying your media release, you're much more likely to earn coverage. Again, this is saving the editor time and resources by not having to send a photographer or cameraman out to cover the story. 

6. Follow up three times - People are busy so sometimes they miss emails. Make sure you follow up with the media you've contacted, but don't be too annoying about it. If you've tried to follow up three times and haven't got a response, it's time to move on. 

And if all of that seems like way too much hard work, you can always pay a professional. But be wary of the 3 month minimum retainer that drags out to 6 months and an expensive launch event. The oldest PR trick in the book is to drip feed coverage to keep clients on the hook. Ask for a coverage guarantee if you can. After all, I've never run a campaign that hasn't been able to earn coverage. 



 * Bio: Steph Barr started her career in fashion and beauty PR over 15 years ago and has since gone on to work in PR for the music industry, food and beverage, tech start-ups and product. She is journalist by trade that now runs her own brand strategy and PR agency – Barr None Group.  In addition to her PR experience, Steph is also an award winning brand and creative strategist who has dedicated her career to figuring out what makes marketing effective. Leaving McCann Melbourne to found her own agency, Steph is passionate about building brands using organic growth strategies to reduce reliance on paid advertising placements and generate brand value. 





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