Journalists are always on the lookout for fresh stories to write, even more so now that there’s a shift toward digital platforms, news has to be available and updated 24/7. But with leaner teams and a global pandemic turning the world upside down, how does one effectively pitch stories and catch their attention?
Veteran journalist Thad Ogburn, Metro Editor at The News & Observer, shares tips on how you can make your pitch stand out and pique their interest.
Show the value of your pitch immediately. While editors are on the lookout for something different, what’s more important is that the story adds value to the lives of their readers. Talk about your story’s relevance and usefulness from the get-go.
Add visuals. Images and videos are the most attention-grabbing and engaging storytelling tools in the time of digital.
Editors are looking for access. Make sure resource persons that journalists should talk to are easily accessible. Have them available via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom, and note that in your pitch.
Do your homework. This is especially important when pitching to local news organizations. Be familiar with the area, the journalist you’re pitching to, and his or her beat – is their beat still related to what you’re planning to pitch? Craft the pitch in such a way that it’s relevant to them.
Add a human element to your story. Whether it’s about social unrest, COVID-19, or a natural disaster, a human interest angle – accounts of how COVID-19 has affected small businesses for example – will more likely get attention.
There’s always room to pitch upbeat stories, too. Pitching against the tide of COVID-19-related news could be a refreshing move.
Time your pitch. A pitch sent out a month early will be overlooked; the same could be said about a pitch that’s sent a day or hours before. A week or two in advance would be just about right.
Be patient. Pitches need not be related to COVID-19. However, articles about the pandemic are highly sought-after by readers; your pitch might be relegated to the back burner for some time. Journalists might also have a lot on their plates and it could take a while before they get the chance to respond to you. Don’t be afraid to follow up after a few days, but set your expectations accordingly and avoid being pushy.
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