Fighting for space on the front page challenges every organization, no matter the size or cause. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches each week with pushes to cover events, causes, or points of view. How can advocacy organizations break through the noise and get their issues represented?
Successfully pitching reporters holds the key to consistent, positive coverage for your cause. Before you step up your game with pro tips, there are a few basic principles to live by so you don’t irritate the reporters you’re trying to influence.
Avoid giving an intern a script without background information and just telling them to make calls. The person pitching needs to have a thorough understanding of the issue and the reporter they’re trying to reach. Don’t pitch without knowing what that reporter has written in the past. If they’ve written on a similar topic recently, you should be ready to explain how it connects and expands upon their past work. You never want an interested reporter to take a call from your organization only to have them find that the person they’re talking to can’t dive deeper and answer crucial follow-up questions.
Going in prepared will help to eliminate those reporter pet peeves, but what can you do to actively stand out from the crowd?
- First, don’t reinvent the wheel! The tried and true press release with a follow-up call still works. In an effort to be heard, some organizations release long pressers that attempt to cram all information into one place. Press releases are strongest when limited to a paragraph with the what, when, and where at the top. Don’t try to do too much with it. If the reporter needs more information, they’ll call you.
- Cultivate good press-organization relationships by developing a reputation as a go-to person. Become this go-to person by keeping in mind the reporter’s audience, knowing your issue deeply, and being an honest broker in your conversations with reporters.
- Find a way to give them a unique angle. Reporters love an exclusive. If your story has a personal touch, share that with them. Offer to connect them to someone with a compelling story directly impacted by your issue. Use your expertise to develop intriguing answers to these questions: What makes your organization’s pitch different? What’s the argument? What’s sexy about this story?
- Lastly, make their job easier. Compile fact sheets with sources for reporters. Your day may be crazy, but reporters have tight deadlines and if you don’t call back soon enough, your organization’s story won’t see the light of day. Your schedule should cater to theirs.
Even the most popular advocacy organizations aren’t immune from the battle for space on the front page, but using these tips and avoiding reporter pet peeves will help garner you success in advocating your organization’s messaging with the media. What pro tips or pet peeves would you add to this? Let us know in the comments section!