How to decide where and who to pitch to - Part I

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This, I think, is one of the biggest barriers people doing their own PR come up against again and again. They might find a couple of journalists who seem like a good fit, but then once they’ve contacted them, they feel like they’re back to square one - not sure where they should be pitching or how to decide which journalists to pitch to.

Here, I’m going to be sharing a few tips on figuring out where to pitch and who you should be directing those pitches to - a formula you can use over and over again.

First of all, it's important to target 

I’ll go more into this at some point but let me state here that you are far better off pitching 10 aligned journalists something specific and appropriate to them than a 100 random ones and hoping for the best. You’re more likely to be successful but even if they don’t pick up that particular pitch, they’ll appreciate your careful consideration and the effort you put in and will make note of that for the future.

Okay. So back to the formula.

Choose your area 

Pick what idea you want to pitch (don’t forget to go back to Newsletter 2 for a few tips on how to come up with ideas - also more on this in the future). Maybe it’s an idea based on something you’ve seen in the news recently. Maybe it’s a problem that has come up for a few clients that you know others have, too.

For the purposes of this newsletter, I’m going to use the following example:

What to do to relieve night time anxiety

Google the keywords of that idea - and look at the news section

Once you’ve chosen, type either your idea or the key words into Google, then hit the ‘News’ tab just below the search tab. For my example, What to do to relieve night time anxiety, I might type in a key phrase like ‘sleep anxiety’ or ‘night anxiety’.

Take note of what kinds of pieces are being written 

Take a look at your key phrase searches. What kinds of stories are being written about this topic right now? How are they being phrased as headlines? This is good information to keep in your back pocket for later when you’re looking to write that pitch.

Which titles are writing stories like this? 

Take note of which news or media outlets are writing these kinds of stories. Any that you feel have written something interesting, take note.

...And who is writing them?

Next, look at who is writing these stories. You can do this by clicking on the headline in Google that you’re interested in then, once the article loads, looking at the Byline - that’s usually found under the headline and says who wrote the piece. Click on their name and take a look at the kinds of pieces they write in this area. If you think they'd be interested in some of the topics you have expertise in, add them to your database of journalists to keep track of.

This exercise shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes and should yield some pretty useful results.