Effective Media Pitches

Media Coverage is the Ultimate Endorsement

Cure for Aids

Effective Media Pitches Require Hi Resolution Photos

The press release may be dead, but the media pitch is very much alive and is a mission-critical piece of your fundraising and advocacy.

Media coverage is the ultimate endorsement and third-party endorsement. Face it, media coverage gives you authority and clout that you just can’t get through self-promotion.

Helpful Hints for Today’s Media Pitch

News media has changed dramatically in recent years as newsrooms are shuttered and ┬áthe landscape is more competitive. Here are some helpful hints to crafting an effective media pitch in today’s digital environment:

  • Craft a newsworthy “hook” or “angle” for your topic. Brainstorm and define your hook based on:
    • National events and hot topics, e.g. the violence erupting in Egypt this week
    • Expert advice – helpful hints and especially “insider knowledge” that might be surprising or counter-intuitive works everytime
    • Holidays, especially anything to reduce stress and make holidays easy and fun
    • Trends, e.g. food safety or work-life balance
    • Newly released studies or breakthroughs, e.g. cure for HIV/AIDs through marrow transplants could generate another article on diagnosing or treating HIV in developing countries
    • Celebrity Tie-ins, when a celebrity is diagnosed with your disease or takes a courageous stand on your topic
  • News media wants to interview and quote “people” not statistics or institutions. Be personable or find program representatives that are personable and can represent you and your topic well.
  • You must have hi-resolution, emotional, professional photos that showcase your mission, cause, and especially the people involved. Don’t pitch until you have these photos ready to go with photo credits, photo caption ideas, and names of people in the photos.
  • Pitch the “right” outlets. The right outlets are defined as the media that your supporters read, as already researched by you, that can benefit from, or has a history of, running stories on your topics. This could be a major blog, such as Huffington Post, or a news outlet such as the Christian Science Monitor. Unless you’re an advocacy organization, this list should be no more than 10 or 12 outlets.
  • Relationships matter, so treat your media contacts as well as you would treat a major donor. If you don’t already have a relationship, use a hot hook story to build media relationships with key writers at the media outlets your supporters read. Open with, “I’m an avid reader of yours and I know you care about [identify issues] and have become something of an authority on the topic. We’ve have a story that approaches [the topic] in a way that breaks your heart [or some other emotion]. [Begin your pitch]”
  • Your pitch:
    • Keep it short and sweet, e.g, “The violence in Egypt reminds us how important emergency medical care is when you least expect it.”
    • Use bullets to break up copy
    • Make your call-to-action clear, e.g. contact me for an interview, contact me to put you in touch with our program chief, etc.
    • Write catchy pitch lines, e.g. 10 Things You Should Never Do During Political Upheavel
    • Media needs to see credentials, but not a long list. Mention your most impressive credentials when contacting the media. Note: Accomplishments are not credentials.

Next Week’s Tips: What to Do When You Land the Interview

Next week we’ll offer you no-fail tips what to do when you land the interview. Look for it here.

Two Simple Steps to Get Started

Brainstorm a list of 10 hot hooks for your organization and make a list of the top 10 media outlets that your supporters read/follow and research writers or columnists at those media outlets that care about your issues. For example, we know that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cares deeply about human rights, international relief, and women’s issues.