10 Tips for pitching to Journalists

Last time we spoke about perfecting your press release, the next step is getting it into the hands of journalists.

Anybody can draft a press release and punt it out to 100 journalists, but this isn’t good PR. In fact, this isn’t PR at all – it’s just spamming. It’s easy to underestimate the strategic thinking behind a PR campaign, but taking the time to think about exactly where you want your coverage to land is a good place to start.

The following tips will guide you in creating an effective basic PR strategy. Be warned it’s all in the preparation but that will undoubtedly deliver better results.Thinking about your dream coverage, write a list of your top 10 magazines, newspapers or websites. Be realistic – a B2B widget launch in Milton Keynes isn’t going to land you the front page of The Times, but there must be local papers, radio, online and trade (industry specific) titles who might have an interest in that sort of thing.

  • Read the titles you just wrote down. I’m not joking. If you want your coverage to land in those publications, the least you can do is read them. Familiarise yourself with the kinds of things they do and don’t write about. Perhaps the angle needs to be money saving, or good for parents, or targeting millennials.
  • Now jot down the names of the journalists who write the articles you think your news would appeal to. Follow them on Twitter, start a Twitter list of your key targets and start building a spreadsheet of your top journos to pitch to. Tear our articles of regular columns that they cover and keep them in a folder for you to refer back to.
  • Add journalists’ emails to your spreadsheet. You can do this in several ways, Google them, look in the publication, check the Contact Us page of the website, check their Twitter bio or LinkedIn profile. Websites like Journalisted.com are also very good. As PR professionals we have costly subscriptions to industry databases that can collate hundreds of journalist contact details at the click of a button – but consider again the spamming element. Much better to target fewer journalists with a strong pitch that a scatter gun approach.

Still with me? I told you it was all in the prep.

  • Now to the pitch email – take your time to get this right. Why are you doing this? Take a step back and ask yourself what you want the coverage to achieve? Is it to raise investment or funding? Is it to draw a crowd to your launch event? Have you genuinely created a first to market that could be newsworthy? This is what you need to convey in your email as quickly as possible.
  • To help your email stand out from the hundreds that your journalist receives every day, try putting their name and the section you are pitching to in the subject line of your email. For example, ‘FAO. Ben Smith: Pitch for ‘app of the week’ so the journalist instantly sees that you know exactly which section your pitching to. Make their lives easier, it will help them to see the merit of your pitch.
  • Never start with ‘hope you’re well’ – you’ve never met them and it’s a pet peev of journos. Just go straight in with your pitch. Get straight to the point by telling the journalist why the story is relevant to them. Copy and paste the press release into your email – journos are too busy to open attachments.Where relevant we’ll embed low-res imagery in the email too.
  • Avoid sending emails on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons – these are heavy planning or deadline zones for most journalists. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally your best days to pitch.
  • Never send blanket Bcc emails. If their name is not on it, many journalists will delete your email without reading it. Quality, individual emails are your best shot.
  • Remember to log the date you approached them in your spreadsheet from Step Four and if you receive a response and/or feedback make a note of that, too. This way you won’t accidentally double up or chase the same person 10 times when they’ve already said it’s not for them.

The above is just a quick step-by-step guide to help you get basic print and/or online coverage, but there are so many other ways to get press exposure, including research stories, ambassador campaigns, thought leadership, picture stories, broadcast and podcast interviews.

If you would like to learn more about these different techniques, then sign up for our two hour intense masterclass PR 202, a small seminar for ten students. Alternatively, you can book PR 303, an intense three-hour one-to-one session including follow-up assistance and advice over a three month period.

Last time we spoke about perfecting your press release, the next step is getting it into the hands of journalists.

Anybody can draft a press release and punt it out to 100 journalists, but this isn’t good PR. In fact, this isn’t PR at all – it’s just spamming. It’s easy to underestimate the strategic thinking behind a PR campaign, but taking the time to think about exactly where you want your coverage to land is a good place to start.

The following tips will guide you in creating an effective basic PR strategy. Be warned it’s all in the preparation but that will undoubtedly deliver better results.

  • Thinking about your dream coverage, write a list of your top 10 magazines, newspapers or websites. Be realistic – a B2B widget launch in Milton Keynes isn’t going to land you the front page of The Times, but there must be local papers, radio, online and trade (industry specific) titles who might have an interest in that sort of thing.
  • Read the titles you just wrote down. I’m not joking. If you want your coverage to land in those publications, the least you can do is read them. Familiarise yourself with the kinds of things they do and don’t write about. Perhaps the angle needs to be money saving, or good for parents, or targeting millennials.
  • Now jot down the names of the journalists who write the articles you think your news would appeal to. Follow them on Twitter, start a Twitter list of your key targets and start building a spreadsheet of your top journos to pitch to. Tear our articles of regular columns that they cover and keep them in a folder for you to refer back to.
  • Add journalists’ emails to your spreadsheet. You can do this in several ways, Google them, look in the publication, check the Contact Us page of the website, check their Twitter bio or LinkedIn profile. Websites like Journalisted.com are also very good. As PR professionals we have costly subscriptions to industry databases that can collate hundreds of journalist contact details at the click of a button – but consider again the spamming element. Much better to target fewer journalists with a strong pitch that a scatter gun approach.

Still with me? I told you it was all in the prep.

  • Now to the pitch email – take your time to get this right. Why are you doing this? Take a step back and ask yourself what you want the coverage to achieve? Is it to raise investment or funding? Is it to draw a crowd to your launch event? Have you genuinely created a first to market that could be newsworthy? This is what you need to convey in your email as quickly as possible.
  • To help your email stand out from the hundreds that your journalist receives every day, try putting their name and the section you are pitching to in the subject line of your email. For example, ‘FAO. Ben Smith: Pitch for ‘app of the week’ so the journalist instantly sees that you know exactly which section your pitching to. Make their lives easier, it will help them to see the merit of your pitch.
  • Never start with ‘hope you’re well’ – you’ve never met them and it’s a pet peeve of journos. Just go straight in with your pitch. Get straight to the point by telling the journalist why the story is relevant to them. Copy and paste the press release into your email – journos are too busy to open attachments.Where relevant we’ll embed low-res imagery in the email too.
  • Avoid sending emails on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons – these are heavy planning or deadline zones for most journalists. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally your best days to pitch.
  • Never send blanket Bcc emails. If their name is not on it, many journalists will delete your email without reading it. Quality, individual emails are your best shot.
  • Remember to log the date you approached them in your spreadsheet from Step Four and if you receive a response and/or feedback make a note of that, too. This way you won’t accidentally double up or chase the same person 10 times when they’ve already said it’s not for them.

The above is just a quick step-by-step guide to help you get basic print and/or online coverage, but there are so many other ways to get press exposure, including research stories, ambassador campaigns, thought leadership, picture stories, broadcast and podcast interviews.


If you would like to learn more about these different techniques, then sign up for our two hour intense masterclass PR 202, a small seminar for ten students. Alternatively, you can book PR 303, an intense three-hour one-to-one session including follow-up assistance and advice over a three month period.