Laura Petrolino

How to Find Your Organization’s Stories and Create the Perfect Media Pitch

By: Laura Petrolino | February 5, 2018 | 
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media pitch

One of the most frequent pushbacks prospects or new clients have when embarking on an earned media campaign is, “But we don’t have any interesting news for a media pitch.”

Likewise, even the most creative communicator has sat there staring hopelessly at the computer screen wondering what in the world they can pull together for a compelling media pitch.

The good news is: there is always a story.

A compelling, pitchable story.

Sometimes you just need to change your perspective and put your creative hat on to find it.

Here are five ways to get your creative juices flowing and a create an endless reservoir of great stories to tell the media about your organization.

What’s Already Being Written

You should monitor your organization’s name, your top executive’s names, keywords you are targeting, top competitors, and any other relevant industry topics.

If you have access to a snazzy monitoring platform, great.

If not, you can set-up a great DIY monitoring platform in Hootsuite.

Set Up Search Columns for Your Target Keywords 

In Hootsuite, go to Add Stream, click on the profile you want, and the social network.

Click the “keyword” tab and enter up to three terms per column.

If you need help figuring out the best keywords to use, this article on keyword research from Andy Crestodina is a great place to start.

Also set-up a column with your organization name and the names of key executives.

This will help you create media pitches which respond directly to questions or comments real people are asking related to your business areas.

It will also continue to provide more directed insight into where your prospects are hanging out online (and in turn where you want to focus your media pitch), and other general trends.

Lists and Columns

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to build out your Twitter profile with targeted lists (public or private) that categorize accounts in a way useful for your monitoring.

These could be industry influencers, competitors, customers, partner organizations, industry trade organizations, and of course reporters and publications associated with your industry.

Once these lists are set up on Twitter in Hootsuite, go to Add Stream, groups/lists, and you’ll see your list there.

Simply click on it to add a separate column.

This will give you a separate column to quickly sort through what’s important and what’s just noise.

Set-up News Alerts

The same keywords used in HootSuite should be added to Talkwalker (or news alert platform of your choice) to provide you with an even larger scope of information.

This way you can quickly and easily monitor the news easily every day and know immediately when there are opportunities to respond to a story.

See a reporter talk about something you can add insight to?

  • Have a company leader make a smart and informative comment on the article and follow-up with some additional thoughts on what might make a great follow-up story.

Is there a trend in the articles consistently getting shared?

  • Draw up some storylines which your organization’s leaders can provide special insight. What angle or analysis can you give a reporter, which other can’t?

Create a List of Reporters and a Unique Media Pitch for Each

One of the list columns you add to Hoosuite should absolutely be your list of target reporters.

The monitoring detailed above will also help you add to that list AND better understand the perspective and topics each reporter covers the most.

Have your brand’s account and/or executives engage with their content.

You might want to even give your leadership team three to five articles to respond to each week.

They can do this in comments (if the publication allows them), through social, or simply to you.

These responses will not only help you get on the reporter’s radar, but also give you a lot of fodder for potential storylines to massage.

It allows you inside their head to get a better look of how they’d respond to the news of the day.

Responses shouldn’t be promotional, but educational and provide additional thoughts and information.

So you might want to have them sent all responses through you, just to make sure they understand the purpose of this exercise is to inform, not promote.

Likewise, take your list and use a media contact management software (we use Iris) to create a profile for each reporter.

  • What topics do they write about?
  • What articles have they written which you can speak directly to?

Then from those two things create three storylines unique to your organization which align with the reporter’s interest and community.

When you have all of these things you are ready to craft them a personalized, unbeatable media pitch.

Why Are Your Competitors in the News?

Google your competitor’s name in Incognito mode.

Click over to news and see why people are writing about them.

What stories are they being included in or used as sources for?

  • Should you be there as well?

Have you introduced your experts to those reporters yet?

  • Figure out a unique angle of why your source might be able to speak to something from a different perspective or provide additional insight to the reporter. You don’t want to be a “me too,” you want to be a necessary source.

Can you provide a different perspective on a story already done?

  • Go back to your point-of-differentiation as a company.
  • What distinguishes you from your competition?
  • How does that allow you to give a different viewpoint or additional insight into something already written?
  • Can you make that into a stand-alone story that might interest a reporter or publication?

Can you give an updated viewpoint to an older article?

  • Things change quickly in every industry. If an article is older than a year, you might be able to go back to a reporter with some updates or a different angle based on industry evolution, innovation, or current topic tie-ins.

Let your competitor’s placements give you insight into the reporters who are looking for experts in your industry and the storylines which people are most interested in covering.

Find a Local and National Angle (and Switch Them)

One of my favorite things to do is take a national story and find ways to make it local.

And vice versa.

Sometimes just making this small adjustment in perspective and open up a HUGE reservoir of opportunities and ideas for your media pitch.

So don’t think because a story is a national issue you can’t find an interesting angle to make it local. Or that local stories don’t have ways to tie into national events.

Force yourself to think through both.

Use Your Content to Inspire Your Media Pitch

Go into Google Analytics.

Set the date range for the last quarter.

Go to Behavior –> Site Content –> All pages.

This will show you the data for all the pages on your site.

Take a look at where people are going the most often and staying the longest.

What blog posts are the most popular and have the most engagement?

Likewise, check out your comments being left on your posts. What are people curious about? What further questions do the posts bring up?

Not only can you base pitches off the popular content on your site, you might also get some great ideas from the comments.

Even better, use the process laid out in our Modern Blogging Masterclass to create a complete content and earned media plan.

At the end, you’ll have a content plan and map which lays out what blog posts you should write, what content you should pitch (as well as the publications to pitch it to), and how to pull it all together in order to rank for your target keywords and drive leads to your website.

Stories, Stories, Everywhere

Every organization has endless stories the media wants to use.

And the best stories, are almost never surface level.

One of the most fun parts of our jobs as communications pros is the creative excavation to find them.

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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