Working with the Media
Do’s and Don’ts of Media Pitching

Updated: 6.1.06

What are you pitching or promoting about your event to news organizations in your area?

• News Hook: You must give reporters a reason to cover your event. What is the new news about your event? For example, are you releasing new research findings at your event?

• Tools: What are you providing to help reporters tell your story? Will there be fact sheets or interviews? What will the visuals be at your event? Will there be families that are currently enrolled for children's health coverage or community leaders available for interviews?

How do you prepare to pitch?

• Compile a media list of the appropriate newsroom staffers or beat reporters/producers to contact. See Developing Media Lists and Newsroom Contacts [LINK] in this section and a template Sample Media List [LINK].

• Develop a set of pitch points. These are the main ideas that you will focus on to sell your story. For key messages, see Sample Talking Points [LINK].

• IMPORTANT: Do not give the new research away when pitching reporters. Instead, preview the type of information that will be released at your news conference. For example, you could say: "At our news conference, we will release new data on the number of uninsured children in our area."

When do you pitch the media?

• Three to four days before the event: E-mail the news advisory to everyone on your list. Make follow-up calls to pitch the event and gauge media interest.

• The day before the event: Send the advisory again and follow up with contacts that you haven't spoken with yet.

• The morning of the event: Call again just to find out who's attending. E-mail the news release once your event begins.

Respect reporters' deadlines...

• Print: It is best to call a newsroom between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. At this time, reporters are most likely not in planning meetings or working against a 5:00 p.m. deadline.

• Television: Planning editors generally take calls between 10:00–11:00 a.m. and 1:00–3:00 p.m. It is best to call the assignment desk after the morning planning meeting, which usually ends between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. Remember to describe the story's visual.

• Radio: The best time to call is early--around 7:30–8:30 a.m. After that, the staff goes into planning meetings, but you can start calling again after 10:00 a.m. News directors, reporters and producers are often gone by the afternoon. If a reporter is not able to attend the event, offer to have one of your speakers or interviewees do a taped interview.

• After the event: Follow up with reporters who were interested in your event but did not attend. Call them after the event and offer to send them a press kit, the news release, b-roll for television stations and an audio bite for radio stations. (See Audio Bite Line Pitch Points and Pitching B-roll to Local Television Stations in this section.) Do not forget to track and evaluate your media coverage. Review the stories and interviews to analyze how well your message was delivered.

• DO be concise while pitching the story
• DO assume your event is worth a reporter attending
• DO be enthusiastic about your event
• DO be persistent and call back if you do not get in touch with the reporter right away

• DON'T leave a long phone message with your phone number at the end; leave your name and number immediately after your brief pitch
• DON'T call to see if an e-mail was received
• DON'T pitch two reporters at the same news outlet at the same time
• DON'T read a script
• DON'T argue with a reporter
• DON'T call during a big news story or at deadline