How to Write a Pitch for a Reporter Query - Zable Fisher Public Relations

How to Write a Pitch for a Reporter Query

If you have signed up for my e-mails and gotten publicity opportunities, you may be wondering how to best respond to reporter queries for sources. 

Here are some tips: 

1. Always follow the media contact’s specific requests. So, if you are told to put “Jane Doe Story” in the Subject Line, do that. Why? Because the reporter might have a filter that sends all of those queries to a specific e-mail folder. Otherwise, those replies might get lost.

2. Don’t pitch unless you are truly a good candidate for the story. If you make fat-free dog biscuits, and that’s what the reporter is looking for, then by all means reply. But if you make great-tasting ones and want to prove that yours are just as great as the fat-free ones, don’t bother. You’ll just annoy the reporter, making it unlikely that that person will consider you for a future piece that would be a perfect fit for you.

3. Include all of your contact information in your e-mail pitch. That includes your full name, business name, title, day, night and weekend telephone numbers, location (for time zone purposes and in case the reporter is looking for a specific geography) and e-mail address. Including your Web site is also good – it shows credibility and can provide additional info that the reporter might use.

4. Do not send attachments, unless they are specifically asked for. E-mail filters sometimes delete e-mails with attachments automatically. If a picture if requested, send a link to a .jpg on your Web site.

5. Put the title of the query in the Subject Line, if no specific title is given by the reporter. Something like “Source and Information for Credit Crunch – John Doe” should work.

6. Give ‘em some information. If a reporter is looking for ways employers are helping employees with high gas prices, don’t just say that you have the answers, and can be contacted any time. Give a couple of bullet points with your ideas. Enough to whet a reporter’s appetite, without writing the entire piece.

7.  Always respond immediately to a reporter query, even if the deadline is far away.  Why?  Because the reporter has also asked other people for sources, and if they get responses from other sources quickly, they may stop considering other sources.

8.  If  you are submitting a product for consideration, include a link to a photo, the price, listing of colors available and a description of the product.

Hope this helps. Good pitching!

Margie Zable Fisher
Zable Fisher Public Relations

9 thoughts on “How to Write a Pitch for a Reporter Query”

  1. Thanks Margie! I’d also add that in your response to the query, you should make sure you ask what the reporter’s deadline is (if he/she didn’t list it in the query), and if they may need any additional items so that you can be ready to send them over in an attachment.

  2. Margie Zable Fisher

    Hi Termeh,

    Good points. I added number 7 to the list because I’ve learned the hard way that you should always respond immediately to a reporter query.

    Thanks,
    Margie

  3. Margie,
    I was so happy and thankful when i got your advice on how to “pitch”…I tried and followed the steps, or what seemed to be the steps.
    I didn’t get anywhere….I have a press release that was actually written by a travel writer (my line of business) but except for one publication, who knows me personally, I cannot get anyone to read it, let alone publish it.
    I am all out of ideas. PLEASE HELP!

  4. How do you find out what stories are being run at which magazines/publications?
    I am interested in luxury lifestyle mags for my art and antique collection.
    Before you do a press release can you just call to find out if they are interested in my story?
    Thanks

  5. Dear Mars,
    Many magazines run stories as much as six-eight months in advance.
    While some editors may take phone calls on your story, most prefer to be sent a press release or a query if you are writing the story. Follow the advice that Margie gives and then follow up.
    There are no guarantees that a luxury magazine will run your item, but remember to study the content of the magazine that interests you for at least 3-4 back issues and then you will have a very good idea what the editors will be looking for.
    Most magazines will want to know what makes your art/antique collection different from others that writers have written about. If your product is unique, either in its quality, orgin, or uses, then you will have a good chance for the magazine to use your story.

  6. Dear Amit,
    The business of “pitching stories” to reporters involves patience and persistence. Every publilcation is somewhat unique and you have to study the contents of the publication to know if your story would likely be used.
    Try to find a unique way of writing on your product that does not sound like advertising, but helpful advice for consumers.
    If nothing else, speak to the travel writer/editor and ask what type of stories are you looking for and then you willl learn what will work and what will not.

  7. Hi Margie,

    What are your thoughts on pitching the media via Twitter, IM etc.? I get a lot of mixed signals about it.
    Some journalists I talked to love it, other tell me “only by email, NEVER call me!.

    Debra

    1. Hi Debra,

      At this point I would pitch the media any way you can reach them — Twitter, phone, email, LinkedIn, etc.

      Best,
      Margie

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