When trying to secure media coverage and craft pitches that make reporters jump at the opportunity to talk to your team or publish your news, there are several factors that come into play. Relevancy, timeliness, and usually an interesting hook are all givens when it comes to landing coverage. But, there are other helpful ways to help determine when your news might make the most impact—and most likely to be published.
However, determining the best angle to pitch and when to pitch it may feel impossible. How could anyone possibly know what a reporter is tasked with covering?
The perception that securing editorial coverage is elusive is often actually an illusion. In fact, here are helpful tips to understanding better, faster, and easier ways to help get your news published.
Find the Right Beat
Pitching your news or story to reporters or writers that create content for the audience you sell to is not only critical to landing media coverage, but also to reaching your audience. To be sure you’re front and center to that audience, look for reporters that cover the topics your buyers are most interested in. Then, see if there is a common editor or reporter that covers those topics. If so, that likely means that the reporter is assigned to cover topics within that beat and that they’re constantly on the hunt for the latest, most innovative information about that particular theme or topic.
Round-up some of those reporters and editors and add them to your media list as contacts that you should reach out to, introduce yourself and company or client, and eventually pitch great content too.
Scour Sites for Editorial Calendars
For many publications, content themes and topics are planned well in advance, often as much as a year at a time, in a plan called an editorial calendar (also referred to as an edcal). The reason behind why media outlets create editorial calendars is two-fold. First, it allows content writers and editors to plan for the year, secure their stories ahead of time, and write, edit, or finalize pieces with enough lead time before the publish date. Secondly, by theming out the year, advertisers know when it might be best to promote a tech gadget that might be popular for a holiday gift, for example.
While some PR pros say that today’s 24/7 news cycle and proliferation of digital media has killed editorial calendars, that’s only partially true. While some publications have editorial calendars, many others do. It’s worth the effort when you are rewarded with crucial intel including monthly content themes and when specific content is slated to run.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that editorial calendars are most commonly used to plan for advertising purposes, so deadlines are talking about closing dates for advertising materials. If you see an “ad close” deadline, consider pitching three months in advance of this deadline.
Where to Find Editorial Calendars
Finding a media outlet’s editorial calendar can be a little tricky. When looking at the publication’s website, first try searching sections like “About Us” or “Advertise.” Sometimes there’s a link that actually says editorial calendar or media kit. For example, Inc. Magazine.
If you’re having trouble locating it even after looking at those two most common places, try a Google search by keywords including the publication name + editorial calendar + the year. If it’s not online, you can always call the publication and ask a staffer if they have an editorial calendar. If there is no editorial calendar, you may need to solely rely on researching reports and determining beats or where most of their interest lies.
Build the Perfect Pitch
Once you’ve found the editorial calendar or know the editor’s beat, look at the broad themes and see how your content can fit into their editorial focus. For example, if Inc. Magazine is covering “Best Workplaces” in June, and you’re working for a tech company that has a successful, fully virtual staff that only meets in person once a year at a fun-filled bonding retreat—and the CEO is no exception—then you can tie in June’s theme as a point of reference when sending your pitch. Or, if your reporter contact typically covers AI technology and you have a hot new product launch that will really make a positive impact in the healthcare space, consider tying that news into what they regularly cover.
Reporters love timely angles, and this hook helps increase the likelihood of your pitch getting published. Remember: a hook must have meat to it and not be a stretch of the actual truth. If your news is fluffy, reporters will see right through it and may dismiss you as a source long-term. Be honest when pitching.
Pro Tip: As a reminder, be sure to put that pitch out three months in advance of the ad deadline. (In the Inc. Magazine example, you’d pitch your idea no later than mid-January.)
Analyze, then Rinse and Repeat
Depending upon how often you evaluate your PR strategy, it’s important to take a look back at your media tactics and goals to be sure you’re hitting the mark and achieving your goals. Schedule time to frequently look back and analyze your outreach efforts to see where and what are the most fruitful. Ask yourself:
- What media outlets cover the topics most important to our audience the most? Do we have a solid share of voice in that outlet and industry?
- Are there other or new media outlets that we should consider adding to the list? If so, find the right reporters to add to your media list.
- Are we receiving traffic back to our site from the coverage? If not, what else should we consider doing or pitching?
- How are we maximizing the content we secure in other ways, like our website and social media.
Regularly reviewing your media tactics, including how and where you secure coverage for your company or client, is a great way to continue refining your PR strategy and understanding where gaps may lie.
There are lots of different factors that can help you crack the code of landing media coverage. It’s not rocket science, but successfully placing content does take time, effort, and carefully curated pitches to be sure your pitch lands in the right hands.
For more powerful PR tips and tricks or to brush up on your PR know-how, check out this guide to all things PR. Ready to tackle a new challenge? Sign up to receive weekly jobs emails from RemotePRJobs.com.