As newsrooms continue to be downsized due to furloughs or layoffs, earning media coverage for your law firm is becoming more challenging. While media list research provides a starting point for your media relations practices, it’s only half of the battle. After you have identified and connected with the ideal news outlets and influencers to reach your target audience, you must determine how you’re going to approach a journalist with your story. Knowing what to pitch and when to do it could mean the difference between landing a story and having your pitch overlooked or ignored altogether. Here are some tips to help you decide.
Relevant and Newsworthy
According to a study from Muck Rack, 43 percent of journalists receive five or more different pitches each day, so you want to make sure your story is worth their time. Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes. They’re committed to their readers, viewers or listeners just as your firm is to its clients. Focus on important and timely topics to ensure that your pitch has its best chance of being published.
Staying up on current events and trends provides an opportunity to tie-in your own firm to the subject matter, but it must be done appropriately. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, nearly any story related to the virus will be considered newsworthy but don’t try to force a connection to the virus if one doesn’t exist. Of course you want to be a part of the conversation, but trying to wedge your way in can be counterproductive and damage your relationship with a journalist.
Quality Over Quantity
From newspapers and magazines to television and radio stations, there’s no shortage of media outlets for your firm to contact, but that doesn’t mean you should mass send your pitches to everyone. Journalists are bombarded with story ideas each day and lack of personalization is the number one reason they ignore an otherwise relevant pitch. Remember that working with the media is about developing relationships. Tailoring your pitch to an individual rather than a group will go a long way toward securing coverage and maintaining that positive relationship.
One way to improve the likelihood that your pitch is considered is to offer an exclusive. Approximately 75 percent of journalists say they are more likely to cover a story if offered an exclusive. The right pitch to the right reporter can be beneficial for both parties. You get third-party credibility to improve your firm’s brand awareness, website traffic and social shares, while they get a story that no other news outlet has.
Timing is Key
You never know when a story idea is going to hit you. Maybe it’s late at night, you’re winding down with your favorite Netflix show and suddenly an amazing topic comes into your mind. It’s probably a good idea to get your pitch out immediately before you fall asleep and forget right? Wrong. Knowing when to pitch is almost equally as important as knowing what to pitch.
Nearly 65 percent of journalists prefer to be pitched before noon, compared to just four percent who prefer the evening. If you think of your brilliant idea at a different time, write it out and save it as a draft to send at the opportune time. With 62 percent of journalists having no preference, the ideal day of the week isn’t as cut and dry. However, Monday is the most preferred day for approximately 20 percent.
Engage Without Being Pushy
We all know that feeling. You have a great idea and it’s practically spewing out of your mouth because you’re so excited to share it with someone else. While it’s important to be passionate about your firm’s story, rein it in when pitching to the media. Email is the preferred method for journalists to receive a pitch, so resist the temptation to pick up the phone and overwhelm them with your own excitement.
That doesn’t mean to flood your message with enough information to fill up a book. Less is more when it comes to pitching as 61 percent of journalists prefer them to be less than three paragraphs. Get to the point and prove the worth of your idea quickly to ensure the best chance of securing a story for your firm. You can follow up if you don’t get a response, but limit it to just one additional email at least three days after your first pitch.
Keep in mind that even when you do everything right, not every pitch is going to turn into a story for your firm. Even the most well-written ideas can still be passed over by journalists. Think of yourself as a baseball player in the batter’s box for this practice. Even when you strike out, there’s always another opportunity coming and even Babe Ruth only got a hit in 34 percent of his at-bats.