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4 things to do before selling a story to a journalist

Picture courtesy of pixtawan /
Picture courtesy of pixtawan /

Do you have to psyche yourself up with a strong mug of coffee before pitching stories to journalists?

Getting hold of journalists and being heard is becoming tougher but there are a few things that I do before selling a story in to the media. They work for me and I’d like to share these PR tips with you.

1.    Look at past press clippings

I’ll take a look through press clippings to find out what angles have worked before, how journalists have interpreted stories in the past and who has covered the story. This gives me ideas for angles, what tools I might need to prepare (such as photography, lining up people for interviews, case studies) and opening lines that I can use when I pick up the ‘phone.

2.    Read, watch and listen to the target media

I find it easier to get media coverage if I fine tune my pitch idea by getting to know the media I am targeting. So, I might visit a large newsagent such as WH Smith and buy a pile of relevant magazines or spend time listening or watching the TV or radio programmes that I am targeting. I know it takes time, but the web and lots of useful App’s plus BBC’s iPlayer, ‘listen again’ and Sky+ enable me to tune into what editors are looking for.

3.    Find out the perfect time

I’ll find out journalists’ lead times, what deadlines they work to and when the best time is to catch them.  Few journalists work 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and I’ve found that timing affects the success of your pitch as much as the content. So, I don’t skip this part.

4.    Research the journalist

I’ll find out the name of who I need to pitch to and research what they have written before. I’ll google them, use a site like www.,  read their blog or Twitter feed or maybe ask my colleagues if they know the journalist. This helps me figure out how best to make the approach.

Now I’m all ready to start selling a story.

If you’d like to find out more about my Pitching PR stories to journalists training course, then do get in touch.

If you are a CIPR member, you can watch my webinar for free on Pitching to journalists by clicking on this link.

Image: pixtawan /

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