Securing national coverage is no small task, and it is one made all the more difficult when you’re pitching ideas or products which have a number of direct competitors; to borrow a term from economics, you are effectively trying to sell goods in a market that has become saturated. There are, however, certain principles to stick by which can help certain stories make the cut. Ultimately, the goal is to stand out from the crowd of rivals and to make an impact by approaching the right journalists in the right way.
1. Research, research, research
Before even thinking about writing a pitch, it is vital to properly understand the journalists you are speaking to and the publication they are writing in. Researching this information allows for ideas to be packed up into an easily digestible pitch, which helps a journalist visualise how they can feature in one of their articles. Journalists are often inundated with speculative pitches, which don’t take into consideration the issues the journalist is actually interested in writing about; a well-developed pitch that clearly presents the reasons why a journalist should take the time to consider your ideas increases the likelihood of coverage.
2. Timing is everything
We all know that journalists are incredible time poor, with the events of this year particularly heightening this issue. This means that the time that a journalist first sees a pitch can be critical. National papers often have editorial meetings in the first couple of hours of the day, so catching a journalist just before then can bring results. You should also account for the type of topics the journalist has been recently covering, as often a journalist will be covering a specific beat at any particular time.
3. Standing out can be the difference
When pitching on topics which aren’t inherently different to the crowd, it is important to draw out any unique points in a pitch. This could mean detailing a feature which distinguishes a product from its competitors, or developing a thought leadership platform which shares interesting ideas that the journalists hasn’t necessarily thought of before. Highlighting these points provides journalists with a more concrete reason to consider a pitch.
4. Make your offering clear from the start
Clarity is always important. Journalists are often working to tight deadlines and many spend less than 20 seconds looking at a pitch. The reasons why they should be writing about a particular brand need to be clear from the opening sentence of an email pitch or phone call. This provides them with a frame to understand the subsequent ideas discussed; they’ll be more attentive and engaged when it is made as clear as possible, from as early as possible, why they should give a pitch the time of day.
5. Relationship building is important
Relationships are obviously incredibly important in the communications industry. Collaborative relationships become even more influential when it comes to pitching ideas in a saturated market, as leveraging a relationship can be an important route to standing out from the crowd. This isn’t to say the other steps aren’t important if a comms professional has a good relationship with a particular journalist, but it is certainly advantageous to cultivate contacts who are more likely to spend the time to review the pitches forwarded their way.
As journalists become even more stretched in 2021 and the competition for coverage becomes even more fierce, it’s important to always be thoughtful when it comes to pitching in a saturated market. Being highly adaptable is a must, as many important factors are often changing on a day-to-day basis: the journalists, the products, the companies, the news agenda. Understanding this is a vital step in the process of securing the national attention brands rightfully crave.