• Felicity Cowie

What do journalists think when you pitch?

Updated: Feb 18

I calculate I was pitched at least 100,000 stories as a journalist! And from working in media relations since 2010 I know that pitching a story to a journalist regularly tops people's list of fears, even those who do it for a living.

They worry about how to create something that will 'stand out'. But this isn't actually the first thing to tackle ...

Yes, journalists can be abrupt, don’t listen, point you to their advertising department or never reply at all to pitches.

And to be honest this isn't going to change no matter how much you believe you've got a 'stand out' story. When I worked on behalf of Aardman and Bristol Children's Hospital to get media coverage for the first Gromit Trail in Bristol I got a whole world of No back from everybody except the fantastic local newspaper. Objections ranged from 'we don't cover products as news stories and Gromit is a product' to 'we've already done these sculpture trail things and they're not a big enough story now.' Jump forward to the first photoshoot of Aardman's Nick Park with a pack of 'bare canvas' Gromits ready to be shipped to all the artists who were going to decorate them and I had a complicated juggling act to protect the local paper's longer deadlines whilst satisfying the now eager tv news outlets.

A far more efficient way to ‘stand out’ to journalists is to understand how they work and give them what they can use. Journalism is not a dark art but a long-established industry with rules. By better understanding these rules of engagement you can switch from pitching to collaborating. These free posts are created to help you do that.

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I've helped some of the world’s leading organisations gain extensive news coverage, whilst working as a media relations coach and consultant. Before that, having been pitched at least 100,000 story id