“What makes a media pitch compelling?”
Authors ask me this question all the time. They want to appear on podcasts and other media outlets, but they don’t know how to make their pitch stand out from the crowd.
Fortunately, there’s a key to media pitching that can unlock almost any door:
Know who you’re talking to.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you wrote a book on investing, and you have two friends you think your book could help.
If one of those friends is an extrovert who loves meeting new people, you might say something like, “Researching a potential investment is a lot like getting to know someone. It’s about finding out who that company is—how it operates and what it stands for.”
If your other friend is an introvert who loves gaming, you might say something more like, “Investing is the ultimate game. It’s about strategizing and trying to beat the market.”
Email pitches work the same way. It’s about finding the right story ideas in your book to pitch to each target audience.
This guide will show you step-by-step how to pitch media successfully—finding the right angle for the right media contacts so you get the media coverage you want.
What Makes a Good Media Pitch?
A successful media pitch:
- offers a compelling story angle
- is tailored to the audience of that media outlet
- solves a problem or adds value for that audience
- provides takeaways the audience can learn from and use right away
- sells yourself as the right expert to provide those takeaways
A successful media pitch is NOT a press release. It’s an email that you’ll send to a hand-picked list of targeted media, pitching them a specific news story or interview topic based on your book’s messaging.
It should be targeted enough that the media contact reading the pitch will see that you put in the research—that you know who they are and what they’re looking for.
That doesn’t mean your pitch needs to be highly personalized. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should be short, clear, and direct.
In most cases, you’ll send the same pitch to a targeted list of media. For example, a list of bloggers who write for small-business marketers or startups.
The exception to this is when you’re pitching a story to top-tier media. If you’re pitching an article to Forbes or looking for press coverage from big-market morning shows, every pitch should be unique.
For help finding media lists with contact information, read this: 28 Best Public Relations Tools to Find Media Opportunities.
For help with your PR strategy, read our posts on book publicity strategies and hiring book publicists.
How to Come up with Great Pitch Ideas
Research your audience
The first step in any media outreach is to research your audience.
You’ll want to build media relations with outlets that have a strong intersection with your own target audience—but note that each outlet might reach a slightly different segment of that audience.
For example, if you published a book about high-performance motivational psychology, you could pitch ideas to podcasts that are focused on reaching:
- business executives
- college athletes
- medical professionals
- competitive gamers
These individuals all want to be top performers in their field, so they’re all great audiences for your book. But you would pitch the media that target these segments differently.
In researching each media group, ask yourself:
- who the audience segment is
- where they live (how wide is the media coverage?)
- what their common interest is
- what they need
And, of course, you should hone your pitch angle for the medium itself. Are you pitching to a podcast? A digital magazine? A LinkedIn celebrity or other social media influencer?
For each audience you identify, be sure to tailor your approach to that niche.
Brainstorm your pitch deck
Once you know exactly who the audience is, start brainstorming angles.
If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself:
- How does the content of your book relate to this audience?
- What stories or examples from your book would they find most interesting?
- Is there a certain chapter that’s more relevant?
- What value does this group need from you specifically?
- If you could leave everyone in that audience understanding one concept from your book (one that could make the most difference in their lives), what would it be?
Brainstorm your top 5 angles and pick the best one for that audience.
Perform this exercise separately for each audience you want to pitch to.
Remember your overall content marketing strategy in coming up with pitch angles, and be sure to include any SEO terms you’re trying to rank for.
How to Pitch to Media in 7 Easy Steps
1. Start with the hook
When it comes to writing the email itself, there’s a basic PR pitch template you should always follow, and it starts with the hook.
How do you know what your pitch’s hook is? It’s the most compelling angle of your pitch for this audience. That might be:
- a newsworthy angle based on a timely or trending issue
- a unique angle that will catch their attention
- your relevant credentials—whether that’s your past experience or your 1 million followers across your social media channels
Think about the strongest aspect of your pitch and lead with that. Use your opening paragraph to set the stage and establish your pitch’s relevance for this audience.
Timely pitches are usually great, but be sensitive to market saturation. PR professionals read hundreds or even thousands of pitches. If a certain topic has been dominating the news for too long, consider going in a different direction.
2. Add value
Follow up the hook with a clear statement outlining the value you’ll provide to the audience.
One great way to do this is by highlighting the problem that makes you and your message relevant to this specific group of listeners or readers.
- All too often, home improvement DIY projects come with surprises that end up doubling or even tripling your costs.
- Too many car buyers end up paying 30% or 40% more for their car than they realize. Why? Because they focus on their monthly payments instead of their actual loan terms.
- Parenting a teenager can feel like you’re living in a minefield, trying not to set off daily explosions of anger, resentment, or tears.
This section should make it easy for the journalist or other media professionals to see how they can pitch the segment to their own audience.
Set up the problem, then knock your pitch out of the park with a clear, concise statement of the solution you’re going to provide.
Consider listing the key takeaways you’ll offer in a list of brief bullet points. For example, you can help listeners learn how to:
- Use 6 key strategies to de-escalate their teen’s emotional outbursts
- Adopt 5 simple habits that will reduce anxiety in the whole family
- Recognize and avoid the 3 approaches almost every parent uses that are guaranteed to make things worse
Remember to include your credentials and previous work in the field, but keep them brief. Limit yourself to the ones that are most relevant:
- why you’re the right person to be talking about this subject matter
- why you’re the best person to add this value to this audience
- what makes you a unique voice on the topic
All that said, be concise. The most impressive pitches convey tremendous value in very little space.
3. Make the Ask
Conclude with a statement indicating that you would love to be a guest on their show—or a guest blogger, or whatever your specific ask is.
Keep this short and simple.
4. Edit Your Pitch
Now, walk away from your pitch for a few hours—or even a few days—before you send it. Come back with fresh eyes and edit it, thinking about how it would come across to the person you’re emailing it to.
Keep it to 3 short paragraphs at most. Remember, the most impressive pitches sell themselves quickly and concisely.
Read your pitch out loud to yourself and listen to the way it’s landing. Try to hit a tone of simple, direct confidence, and meet them where they are.
You’re not begging to be on their show, and you’re not full of yourself either. You’re a like-minded professional who wants to help them generate a fascinating dialogue that serves their audience.
5. Create Your Email Subject Line
Once your email is ready, it’s time to craft your email’s subject line.
Start with your ask, posed as a question:
- Guest idea?
- Article idea?
Then, add a very brief hook. For example:
Pitching to male-driven self-help podcasts:
- Guest idea? Redefining masculinity
Pitching to both contractor and subcontractor podcasts:
- Guest idea? Strengthening the contractor-sub relationship
Pitching to podcasts for military entrepreneurs:
- Guest idea? Your company’s single greatest weapon
Pitching to retail podcasts:
- Guest idea? Time to celebrate your “accidental” career in retail
Pitching to podcasts for nonprofits:
- Guest idea? How to tell your nonprofit story
Pitching the same guest to podcasts on fundraising:
- Guest idea? Tap into the equity of your own story
6. Follow up
If you don’t hear back right away, wait 2 weeks before you follow up. Public relations professionals who pitch media for a living will sometimes follow up as much as a month later, so don’t be in a hurry.
When you do follow up, reply to your initial pitch so they have that context for reference.
In your follow-up email, provide a link to your media kit, and keep your email to 3 quick thoughts:
- Hey, I want to follow up on this.
- Here’s the media kit.
- Are you interested?
7. A Note on Repitching
If you’re pitching podcasts, don’t repitch them if they pass on it. Not even with a different angle.
If you’re pitching to a print or digital publication, wait a couple of weeks. Then feel free to pitch them something else (as long as it has a different angle).
Building Media Relationships
As you start to secure media coverage, remember to follow up afterward with a simple thank you. Let them know how much you enjoyed the conversation.
Connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media, and continue to follow and interact with them. Keep building the relationship.
If you do that, you could easily become a regular expert on their show, turning that one simple “yes” into a long-term opportunity.