Don’t Just Pitch Stories, Pitch Sources!

By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Supervisor at TrizCom PR

As public relations ‘practitioners’ (a $20 word), we pride ourselves on our ability to pitch the media just the right story at just the right time. In doing so, we go through a mental checklist of suitability factors. Number one: is the story news and noteworthy? If you have to ruminate on this point, it probably isn’t. Can you make it news and noteworthy? Well, it is our job to find the angles…

When we approach the media in our outreach efforts, we like to do a little exercise where we put ourselves in our target’s shoes. When they get your emailed pitch, will it be greeted with a slow, approving nod? Or an eye roll, banished forever in the Deleted Items folder? We’re always aiming for the slow, approving nod. Hopefully followed up with an immediate reply or a call asking for more information.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper demonstrates the eye roll

CNN’s Anderson Cooper demonstrates the eye roll

Do you see what just occurred there? What we’re really trying to do is help the media. We want to make their jobs easier, which is no small task considering how many times they likely roll their eyes each and every day. And if we’re truly trying to help our friends in the media secure coverage for our clients, why not find new and inventive ways to do so?

Pitch sources, not just stories.

Is your client an expert on anything? If you don’t think so, maybe you have the wrong client. You need to find inventive ways in which you can pitch your client sources to the media. If successful, that’s the very definition of an industry thought leader, correct? Being able to feature a client of yours on the news or in the newspaper is an ideal way to attach credibility to their product or service. The source subject is almost always featured by name—and by company.

Source pitching works extremely well if you can attach your client to a breaking news story. If an issue or current event is at stake and your client has a valuable opinion on it, don’t be shy about sending a brief note to your contacts in the media. List out their areas of expertise and how they might contribute to the overall conversation.

What Breaking News looks like…

What Breaking News looks like…

We’re doing a little of that ourselves these days. Fortunately for us, the Trump Administration is the gift that keeps on giving. Their American Health Care Act and proposed budget cuts to Medicaid may end up being a banner day for our nonprofit client, Community Council of Dallas. One of the Community Council’s core missions is to advise and assist consumers in navigating the health care marketplace. If we can secure them as a viable source to break down the issues for viewers and readers, everyone comes out ahead. And we get a few more media hits to add to their online newsroom.

When you pitch the media a source instead of a story, you’re attempting to do them a favor. You’re basically saying, “We know your time is valuable, and you may be too busy to line up sources on your own. Let us to do the heavy lifting.”

That’s the true beauty of pitching a source. And the definition of a win-win situation.