How do you know whom to pitch?

February 26, 2015

How do you know whom to pitch?

When it comes to media relations and publicity, having a good story is merely one part of the equation. You also have to know whom to pitch that story to.

This is where a carefully developed and tailored media list comes in. If it’s not part of your media relations strategy, it should be. Here are a few tips.

1. Focus your efforts on key media contacts.

First of all, you wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – just pitch anyone. If your startup just raised $2 million in seed funding, a City Hall reporter at the Toronto Star probably wouldn’t be interested. Instead, focus on those high-level reporters and bloggers that have a genuine interest in the topic.

2. Put yourself in their shoes.

Before pitching, ask yourself, “Would they want to hear about this?” If you’re just pitching them for the sake of pitching – and they wouldn’t actually have a genuine interest in your story – they probably shouldn’t be on your media list. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about their needs and interests.

3. Do your homework.

How do you know if they may be interested? This is where good ‘ol quality homework comes in. Research their beats, what they cover and what grabs their interest. Even more, it’s a good idea to know their pitching preferences. Some prefer the traditional email pitch with a link to a press release, while others may prefer the phone. There are even some that are open to being pitched over Twitter. Knowing how they want to receive information will make your pitch stand out.

4. Think outside the box.

While focusing your efforts is key, don’t get too restrictive! Suppose you launch an app that will better help students prepare for their SATs. A story like would appeal to both tech journalists and those covering the education beat.

5. Don’t forget bloggers and podcasters!

I mentioned bloggers earlier. The days when newspaper reporters were the only ones breaking news stories are long gone. Did you know that Jesse Brown, producer of the Canadian podcast Canadaland, was the first one to break the Jian Ghomeshi story? Bloggers and podcasters can be heavily influential, and they often have huge social media followings.

Keep in mind: the relationship between brands and journalists are mutually beneficial – brands want coverage and journalists want good stories that are of interest to them. The key word is them. If you can put yourself in their shoes highlight why your story should matter to them, then that will definitely increase the likelihood that they will go for it!

Image credit: edkohler, via


Samuel Dunsiger

Samuel Dunsiger is a freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. He has written for variety of print and online outlets. He has also worked for a boutique PR agency in San Francisco that specializes in startups, and supported the media relations’ activities for a range of brands and non-profits. Follow Sam on Twitter, @samdunsiger.