PR Training

When Pitches Require More Than Newsworthiness

The game used to be relatively simple: You find something newsworthy, suggest it to the right journalists, and then they cover it. Now it’s a lot more complicated.

For instance — being newsworthy is often no enough. Journalists (and especially bloggers) want you to bring something else to the table: an audience.

For now, this isn’t something most of them talk about openly. But it’s become part of their editorial calculations by necessity. If they cover you, they want to know how many page views you can deliver to them.

Podcasters are pretty blatant about this. They interview people who already have big followings, either via social media or email lists, because they know the thought leader will push the link out to their contacts and say, “Hey, I was on this podcast the other day, check it out.” And then the podcaster will get more downloads and be able to present that higher number to advertisers.

You may remember this from when blogs were still on the upswing — bloggers would guest post for each other, then go back to their own blogs and direct their followers over to the other, bumping up page views.

Now back to you. What audience can you deliver to the influencers you pitch? Maybe you do have a platform to promote their resulting stories about you — a significant social following, email list, or website where you can share the link and drive traffic.

One time I was working with a media relations pro from a nonprofit at my media relations workshop. She asked for my input on an email she was sending to a new writer at a top-tier national paper. I suggested that she include the size of her organization’s social media following (they’re fortunate to have 7 million Facebook fans) and hint that she’d use them to drive traffic to resulting stories.

About 45 minutes later, the writer responded to explore the opportunity.

But even if you don’t have a platform like that, you can still make this principle work for you if you think hard enough. Figure out which audiences your target influencer is going after — maybe something like “young moms.” Then find some ideas or content that have performed well with that audience, and use that to validate your pitch. It would look something like this:

“Dear Important Health Care Influencer,

I’ve noticed that you’ve been sharing items of interest to young moms recently. Our hospital has some quick guides that help moms determine whether to take their toddlers to the ER, the doctor or stay home. Since we posted these, traffic to our site is up 15 percent. I imagine that with your broader reach, you’d see even more moms clicking through to check these out. Would you like to share them?”

I wish we all had 7 million followers we could offer to a journalist or influencer, but the “media relations masters” I know wouldn’t let social media numbers lower their chances at placements. Do some research. Find what resource you could provide that helps that reporter reach their target audience. It might be an email list you can share an article with. Or maybe you partner with someone else who does have an audience.

With enough creativity and research, we all have something to offer our top media targets and those they’re trying to reach.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”.

Leave a Comment