3 Tips for Pitching Stories to the Media That Will Never Go Out of Style

Lisa Zlotnick

Lisa Zlotnick

You may think your brilliant product or service, on the face of it, has enough of a news hook for journalists, but your media relations success or failure often rests on your own storytelling abilities, says Lisa Zlotnick senior VP at Lippe Taylor, which was recently named a co-winner in media relations at PR News' Agency Elite Awards luncheon.

Zlotnick shared with us her top three rules for pitching stories to the media—and at the very top of her list is to tell a compelling story. 

> Tell a story
Whether you are pitching a product, event, travel destination or beverage—no matter what it is you are pitching—it’s always important to tell the media a story. The more you think like a journalist, the better your pitch will be and the more placements you will generate for your clients or for your organization. Simply sending out a press release and expecting the media to put together a story on its own will not be productive. It’s important to be creative with your writing and take the time to explore angles and ideas.

> Offer an expert
Make sure to always have a stable of experts at the ready who are familiar with your brand to offer for media interviews. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a paid spokesperson but can be someone internally from the company you are representing, an industry expert that is a fan of your brand or even ­­­someone with a strong social network in the same field.

> Timing is key
It’s always important to know the deadlines of the media you are pitching. If you are trying to contact a producer from a television show and you call them just as their newscast is beginning, that’s not good. If there is major national news breaking and you send out your pitch on an irrelevant topic because you were told to do so, use common sense and remember what the media goes through in a breaking story situation. If a media contact tells you the best time they like to be pitched, write that down and take that advice seriously. Keep a running diary of your contacts and the best times to reach them.

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis.



About Lucia Davis

Lucia Davis is community editor for PR News. Prior to returning to NYC, she was associate editor at iMedia Connection in Culver City, CA. In addition to PR News and iMedia, Lucia's writing has appeared in minonline, "The Minetta Review," "EQUITIES Magazine," and "The Foothills Paper."

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  • Steve Kramer

    While these are good tips, they’re really PR 101. The newest Communications Specialist should know these guidelines.

    • Lucia Davis

      Hi Steve,

      We’re always looking to add new voices to our site. Would you be interested in writing something for us with some of your own media pitching tips?

      Let me know: ldavis@accessintel.com


  • Ford Kanzler

    Good basics. I’d add:
    - Be very clear on the journalist’s interest area – their beat – and explain how their reader/viewers will benefit from the story.
    - Pre-brief your expert spokesperson so they know exactly what the pitch involved and what the journalist needs. If the content topic is complex, e.g. medical/technical, remind the interviewee the journalist is NOT an topic expert and keep the info at a level they can grasp. Even trade journalists are generalists, not specialists.

    - Having the content expert take a patient, educational approach toward the interview will go a long way toward creating a stronger, long-term media relationship.

    • gayle t

      these are excellent points that go a long way in effective pitching and press relations.

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