Teddy Webb is the Style Editor for Main Line Today and a former managing editor for a lifestyle magazine. She loves discovering the best in fashion, interior design and dining. Learn how to make your pitch to the media stand out in her guest blog post below!
“The words “media industry” often have a competitive connotation to it due to the number of aspiring writers on the market, and for what constitutes as timely content in a rapidly moving society. For those looking to break into the industry or those who are just getting a taste of it, the idea of pitching newsworthy material can often feel daunting and uncertain. To feel nervous, unsure of your topic or writing ability I feel are completely normal things to experience—in fact, I experienced these exact feelings at the start of my own career. So, to ease your nerves, doubts or any other emotions you might encounter along the way, I’ve curated a list of my top five tips on how to create a successful pitch that will surpass the competition.
- Do your research—beyond just the topic you’re pitching. Magazines and news sites cover a lot of diverse content and nonetheless, at a swift pace. There may be a particular topic you’re passionate on covering—albeit a catchy one—the publication you’re pitching to may have very well already covered this topic. One piece of advice I was taught early into my media career (specifically, journalism) is to figure out if your pitch has already been pitched. Don’t pitch a story topic that already ran, even if it was back in 2017. Uniqueness is key. Read through the publication’s archives online. You can essentially find your answer there.
- Research your publication—familiarize yourself with their brand. Publications vary in the content they specifically choose to cover, and through this they establish a solidified brand. I receive numerous product pitches per week, and while most products seem rather innovative (and some I’d try out for myself!), not all of them fit the mold of our brand or the content I’m particularly searching for (fashion and interior decor). Pitches are not a one-size-fits-all garment. If you’re planning on catching the attention of a food magazine, be sure you’re pitching stories on a new trend in cuisine or a new neighborhood restaurant opening soon. If you’re pitching to a bridal publication, be sure your topic centers around something helpful for brides-to-be that hasn’t necessarily been covered already 5,000 times. If you’re pitching to a lifestyle publication, figure out what areas of lifestyle they cover and pick one, and make sure your product or topic would be of interest to their brand. You get the idea 😉
- Cut through the clutter. Because media professionals receive a slew of pitches per day/week, oftentimes it’s easier to digest a pitch that’s creative yet direct and to the point. It’s easy to get wrapped up in every minute detail of a particular subject matter, but it’s the larger details that will create your angle. For instance, backing your research up with credible data could leverage your pitch and pique the interest of an editor who might be unfamiliar with the statistics you’ve presented. Another way to enhance your content (sans the novel-length wording) is incorporating visuals if and where necessary. This is exceptionally important for those pitching product ideas to be featured in a publication. With the human attention span only seconds long, if we can’t see what the product looks like from the get-go, it might make busy editors take a pass on your pitch. The bottom line: make sure your pitch has everything an editor needs at his or her disposal to make an informed decision, including links to original research, quotes, and high resolution images. This leads me into my next point…
- Capture your audience—and your story. I’ll openly admit a journalist’s inbox gets very cluttered very quickly—which is why I emphasize the importance on eliminating the clutter from your pitch. Your success in part comes from the visuals, data and research—however, the larger part of your success can also come from the sell of the story. Selling your story is all about getting your target audience’s attention. Get them hooked, like a New York TImes Best-Seller flying off the shelves at Barnes & Noble. An interesting, inquisitive and creative lead is one way you can hook your reader (read: editor). Once you accomplish this, then you can figure out the rest.
- Take the time to develop relationships. One of my favorite aspects of my job is getting to know other media professionals, and specifically those who have pitched me a few really unique ideas. Not only do I get to know their client, product, or writing, but I get to know them as an individual, which makes working together on future projects that much better! Patricia is a great example, for instance 😉 I met her at the start of my new job and not only did she sell me on several of her clients, but her collaborative and kind demeanor went a long way and made me want to continue to work with her. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to be approachable—present yourself as an creative and a collaborator. It’ll pay off in the long run when an editor wants to work with you time and time again. And you’ll thank yourself later when you’ve made a few unexpected friendships along the way.”