media pitchCrafting a media pitch for your company or organization is a challenge, especially in today’s world of overworked journalists and saturated media market. You might even be thinking that you cannot break through without turning to an expensive PR firm.

Fortunately, successful media pitches result from working smarter, not harder. Your business can get media coverage just like the biggest industry players. But before you hit send, be sure your story passes the Good Pitch Test:

Am I pitching with a purpose?

Think quality, not quantity, with your media pitches. Remember that journalists don’t owe you free publicity. Their interest lies in newsworthy content, not being a spokesperson for your business.

Instead of this headline:

“Smith Home Goods Store Makes Upgrades to Facilities”

Try this:

“Smith Home Goods Store Prepares for Expansion; New Addition Will Create 50 New Jobs in Smallville”

Am I sending this to the right person or publication?

Your story will compete for the extremely limited time and attention of journalists. To improve your chances, make sure your pitch is tailored to specific publications and personalized for the individual who will receive it.

Instead of this generic pitch with a press release:

SUBJECT LINE: Smith Home Goods Store Press Release

To Whom it May Concern:

Attached you will find information about Smith Home Goods Store’s new home improvement classes, which will be offered every Saturdayat 10 a.m.

Try this introduction for a pitch to a local home decorating blog:

SUBJECT LINE: Smallville Residents Preparing for More Home Improvement Projects this Year

Dear Susan,

More than 60 percent of Smallville County homeowners are planning to undertake a home improvement project this year, according to a recent poll conducted by the Smallville Chamber of Commerce. This is an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2012.

To help Smallville homeowners make the most of their time and money, Smith Home Goods Store is launching a free series of home improvement classes at our Main Street location, beginning with “Modernizing Your Kitchen” this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Or this pitch for the weekend entertainment reporter at your local newspaper:

SUBJECT LINE: Free Home Improvement Classes Bring Design and Construction Experts to Smallville Residents Each Weekend

Dear Bill,

This Saturday at 10 a.m., Smith Home Goods Store will launch a free series of home improvement classes at our Main Street location. These classes will cover a specific topic each week and feature expert panels, full demonstrations and do-it-yourself opportunities. As you know, this is unlike anything else being offered to Smallville residents through other continuing education outlets.

Am I sending this at the right time?

Journalists and professional bloggers operate on tight deadlines. Send your pitch too late, and they might not have enough time to write about it. Send your pitch too early, and it could get brushed to the side.

The best way to determine your target media outlets’ deadlines is to ask, especially if your pitch is time-sensitive. Respecting a journalist’s workload and providing timely content is an important first step in building a good working relationship.

Double-check the details

Journalists shouldn’t have to work hard to contact you once they’ve expressed an interest in your story. At the very least, your pitch should include the contact person’s name, along with an email address and direct phone line. You may also wish to designate a back-up contact person for the story, just in case.

If there are opportunities for exclusives, multimedia or interviews with key people at your company, be sure to mention them as part of your pitch.

And always, always proofread.

Read also: What’s so special about a press release writer?