Media relations

Media pitching: Tips every CEO should keep in mind

Media pitching is an important tool to secure strategic coverage – but it's important to get it right, argues Isaac Goldring.

Whenever a big story breaks, a flurry of hopeful commentators pitch journalists in their masses – and all for a mention in the Financial Times, too.

Getting your quote (or story) into print is incredibly competitive. In any media pitching campaign, founders and executives must adopt clear strategies to maximise their cut-through.

But, of course, this raises some critical questions:

  • What is a media pitch?

  • Why should I engage the media?

  • And, finally, if my media pitch is successful, how should I approach an interview?

What is a media pitch?

At its core, a media pitch is a short message, usually via email, suggesting a story to a journalist. You might suggest an interview, share a topical event, make them aware of an announcement, or even propose writing guest articles.

As you might expect, pitches have to be tied to the news and the news agenda. That means they can take two forms:

  • Proactive pitching, where you flag an upcoming event that is coming down the track (perhaps in a week or so).

  • Reactive pitching, where you're responding to breaking news, which is also known as 'newsjacking'.

For the latter, timing is key.

If you want to generate media attention, you have to be able to respond to the news stream at the snap of a finger. Usually within minutes – hours at most.

What’s the value of media coverage?

Interviews and coverage in respected media titles, whether national, international or trade, will provide you with credibility among key stakeholders.

Even more, securing a diverse range of media slots – digital, broadsheet and, even, broadcast coverage – can improve your profile tenfold.

Executives must leave their glass-walled offices and take thought leadership more seriously.

Isaac Goldring

Plus, stakeholders increasingly expect founders and executives to be more visible.

Recent reports show 81% of people believe CEOs should be personally visible to external stakeholders, and 60% of possible job applicants expect them to be outspoken about relevant social and political issues.

Executives must leave their glass-walled offices and take thought leadership more seriously.

To do that, the modern exec-turned-thought leader needs high-quality media coverage to stand out from the rest. So, how do you set out on this journey – and execute a successful media pitching campaign?

1. Identify the crux of your campaign

Hundreds of people engage the media daily. In fact, a popular journalist might receive thousands of emails in a single day. The numbers are staggering.

As a result, for the reporters and editors on the receiving end, finding the right commentator is like a needle in a haystack. That's why executives need to say things that are genuinely different.

For example:

To attract media interest, you need to start by identifying the so-called 'crux' of your campaign. This is the punchy point that gives your campaign some real media cut-through.

When conducting media pitching, it's important to think about your audience. Source: Profile.

This should be an evidence-based, practical idea that offers a fresh perspective or solution. Highlighting problems or fearmongering doesn't quite produce the same bite.

But what happens when you get that interest – and finally hop on that pre-booked Zoom call? What does the ideal interview look like?

2. Understand your audience

In an interview, a journalist ultimately needs a quote, some tangible and witty insights, or a neat addition to their next piece. It's vital you understand what the journalist wants. It's a two-way street.

To do this, you must structure your narrative into an easily intelligible, concise, and interesting way.

For example, although it might seem robotic, beginning each answer by repeating the question and your core idea is a good strategy to maintain a good structure – and really emphasise your positioning.

The best interviews happen when the journalist receives genuine insights.

Isaac Goldring

Providing clear answers makes the journalists' jobs easier. Short, tight, and direct answers allow journalists to gather quotes and insights easily, meaning they don't have to wade through endless recordings and transcripts.

The clarity of your answers, no matter how good the idea is, can really impact whether you secure coverage or not.

At the end of the day, the best interviews happen when the journalist receives genuine insights, and the interviewee provides punchy thought leadership. For any successful interview round, you must recognise this dynamic.

3. Leave the door open

Media pitching campaigns don't end when you say your goodbyes to the journalist. Building relationships is as important as one-off coverage.

In interviews, as a founder or executive, it is essential you establish your credibility with the journalist and highlight your expertise. This will increase the chances of a journalist inquiring for your commentary further down the line.

Media engagement isn't as transactional as it might seem.

To become a genuine thought leader, you have to cut through the masses and differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Isaac Goldring

More often than not, journalists will first seek out experts from their close network of sources before scouting for others. Getting in a journalist's network and building a solid rapport keeps the door open. It increases the chances of more coverage in the future.

Successful media pitching rounds need a tried-and-tested engagement strategy.

But, as complicated as it might seem, figuring one out isn't rocket science. To become a genuine thought leader, you have to cut through the masses and differentiate yourself from the crowd.

By following these tips, you can do just that – and set foot on the path towards the ultimate goal. Press coverage. No matter whether you work in tech, finance, health, or else.

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