To pitch a reporter, there’s an invisible point threshold you need to cross

While part of a roundtable on media exposure at a Knight Foundation grantee event last year, an audience question got right to the point of what many organization leaders want from reporters: what will it take for you to cover my work?

The idea is that we in media have a bigger audience and offer an endorsement of legitimacy. Whether or not that’s true, it’s why so many seek any snippet of coverage. It also got me thinking about trying to create some data point to help others outside of this industry understand what it takes to get the attention of a reporter and an editor.

Though I’ve written and spoken about getting media coverage before, this question got me thinking about it in a different way.

Think of it like this: for any news organization, there is a certain point threshold that your pitch needs to make it over. This threshold varies by the publication, time of the year and placement (big feature or tiny blog mention). But here are some of those different points that come to my mind:

  • Can you explain very succinctly and clearly what you’re pitching?
  • Are you saying something new or interesting?
  • Does the reporter trust you?
  • Does the editor trust you?
  • Have you given us good stories before?
  • Has the publication covered you in the past? Recently?
  • Have competitive publications covered you in the past? Recently?
  • Have publications we want to emulate covered you in the past? Recently?
  • Do we regularly cover similar stories to yours?
  • Will we be covering you before anyone else?
  • Do you have a visual story, organization or work?
  • Do you already have beautiful visuals, photos, video and otherwise?
  • Is your pitch cool? Or, put another way, will it get me a ton of reader interest?

For each publication and reporter, there is a different point level you’re trying to get past in your email. The best pitches do every time.

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