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Crafting the perfect pitch can be daunting, especially when 69% of journalists spend less than a minute reading them. That’s why choosing the right journalist is crucial. But with a constantly changing media environment, it can be hard to determine which journalists are the best fit for your news.

The next time you’re putting together a media list, use this checklist to help keep your media research on track:


Does their beat match your topic?

There is nothing journalists hate more than receiving irrelevant pitches, which will undoubtedly land you in their trash folder. Knowing a reporter’s beat sheds light on their interests and themes, which will ultimately determine if your story can help extend their subject matter. Cheryl Conner, owner of Snapp Conner PR, advises reading a writer’s prior articles thoroughly before pitching them. Their previous articles will give you an idea of their writing style and will help you craft a more targeted and persuasive pitch.


Are they influential?

Securing coverage with an opinion leader is a PR practitioner’s dream! Many journalists are regarded as experts in their field and carry a large social following. Taking a look at their social profiles will give you an idea of their level of influence. Scrolling through a Twitter account is a great way to get a glimpse of their interests and see how they interact with their audience. Peeking into who they follow may also lead you to additional journalists and influencers who would love to hear your story.


Does the reporter’s audience match your target audience?

When a journalist covers your story, their audience temporarily becomes your audience. Make sure that these people align with the ones you need to reach. A mass audience outlet, such as a national newspaper or broadcaster, may be tempting to pursue, but a story will be harder to get. Never count out the importance of smaller and more niche publications whose audiences may be more engaged. Depending on your communications goals, an active and participatory audience may be more desirable than one that’s passive.


When an outlet has more than one reporter on a beat, who gets the pitch?

Sending the same pitch to multiple journalists within one outlet is a huge PR faux pas. Do the work to figure out the exact right person. You don’t want a situation where two reporters at the same outlet are working off the exact same pitch.

If you’re pitching a niche topic, such as a new software for private woodlot owners, you are going to have the best luck targeting individual reporters who regularly cover forestry, or interesting technology, or even small business. Adapt your pitch to present an angle specific to their area of interest.

If your story is more general or evergreen, such as tips on maintaining healthy personal finances, you can look for a journalist who specifically covers personal finance (as opposed to corporate earnings), or broaden your scope to the business section editor. And if you’ve got an event to pitch, use a media advisory to reach assignment desks rather than e-blast an entire newsroom.

About Melissa Meyer

Melissa Meyer is Cision’s Manager of Community and oversees Cision’s online customer community, Cision City. She has over 5 years’ experience in PR, writing, community and social media management. You can find her chatting about all thing PR, pop culture and basketball @_MelissaMeyer

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