4 Pointers To Improve Your Pitch: How To Get Your Story in the News

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by Johnny Merolla


At Minerva Strategies we often reach out to media on a wide variety of topics that matter to our clients – ranging from water and sanitation issues in Bolivia to universal health coverage in Indonesia to the opioid crisis in Seattle.


Landing stories can be difficult for small organizations that are not big brands like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, but it’s possible with a little elbow grease and smart pitching. Here are four pitch pointers that will help get your story in the news:


1. Is your story actually news?


There is a lot of competition for attention and unfortunately your press release for a new director of development won’t cut it as a news story. Although it may be important within your organization and to your donors or volunteers, the media-consuming public is not interested. Your story must have broader appeal.


2. Is your pitch timely?


It can be helpful to hook your stories to big news events and issues people are talking about. When a string of Hollywood actors lost their lives to drug overdose, we brought attention to our client Evergreen Treatment Services and their work to combat the opioid epidemic in this Seattle Times piece.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, reporters couldn’t care less about what your nonprofit does the day Donald Trump decides to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. On a busy news day like this, your press release or pitch will probably just be deleted. It’s fine to postpone your media outreach if you know it will be eclipsed by a national media event or crazy news cycle.


3. Do you have a targeted media list?


There’s nothing worse than spending a whole day creating and pitching to a media list while downing three Pamplemousse La Croixs and not landing a single news story on your relevant, timely, and newsworthy topic. If this has happened to you, it may be that your media list isn’t targeted to the right people or outlets.


The Minerva team are big believers in the value of creating lean, targeted media lists rather than bloated, general ones. Using media search tools like Meltwater or Cision can be incredibly helpful. Be sure to research what topics journalists are covering and cross-reference reporters’ information with platforms like Twitter to ensure it’s current. Pitching to someone who hasn’t been at their position for years makes you and your organization look bad.


4. Stay focused and manage your feelings.


When I first started doing media outreach, I would send polite emails and feel discouraged when I would get zero response. Then I realized it’s not personal. Reporters are busy people who get pitched on a wide variety of stories every day. This requires that you adjust your mindset.


Instead of getting down, think of pitching this way: Your story pitch is like someone looking for their soulmate on Tinder. Potential matches will swipe left all day long until that magical moment when Randy Reporter swipes right on your pitch.


The next time your organization is ready to pitch a story to the media, remember: make sure it is newsworthy, relevant, and timely, and pitch the right people. This will ensure that a good story gets out there and helps your organization get the attention it deserves.

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.