Getting your published in mainstream media is difficult, especially if you are a freelance journalist or if you haven’t yet established connections with media platforms. This is where pitching comes in. Pitching is like selling your story to the editor. A good pitch can land you on the newspaper.
Here are some tips by James Randerson on how to pitch:
- Read the publication you are pitching to and work out what sorts of stories they are interested in and what slots are available. Think about the format your story will work best in – is it news, a blog, opinion, a feature or something else? Identify a specific section and find out who edits it. Then pitch directly to them, not a general email.
Think of the pressures your editor is under. They most likely have many times more potential stories being thrown at them than is possible to process – from PRs, scientific contacts, their own staff, rival media and other freelancers. To catch their eye, you need to get your pitch right.
- Email is mostly best for an initial approach. Include a clear and concise top line that sums up the story. If you are pitching news, this is probably the top line of your story. Follow that with 100 words or so of context and background. This should be information that backs up your top line and helps to explain its significance. Then give a brief summary of who you are including which publications you have worked for previously. That will help your editor to get a feel for your writing credentials.
- Another tactic, which can be a good way to demonstrate your writing skill, is just to send the completed piece. That way the editor can see exactly what they are getting and how much editing work the piece is likely to need.
- What next? Unless you are lucky, you are likely to be waiting for a response from the void. Don’t just sit there. It is fine to be persistent. Give it an hour or so, then phone up to check that the pitch has arrived and been seen. Very likely, that will prompt your editor to read the pitch and respond one way or the other. Politeness and huge doses of charm are the best way to get a result.
- Target a particular section and pitch to the editor responsible
- Include a clear, concise “top line” for your story
- Give a brief summary of who you are
- Pitch your story without first reading the publication
- Just sit there if you get no reply
- Give away too much if it’s a red-hot story.
Here’s an example from our Climate Tracker from Costa Rica, Diego Ortiz:
Last year, our tracker from Germany, Andreas Sieber, wrote an article on the 8 simple tricks that boosted his pitching success
Here are some webinars we did last year and two years ago on pitching!