For that news that’s too good not to share, we’ve created an easy six-step guide for pitching exclusives to the media.
We all know that media coverage can be the key to a brand’s success. Landing stories, featuring in magazines and getting a repost can open the floodgates, bringing in new audiences, growing brand awareness and converting clicks to sales. But nailing that coverage can be a tricky business. One of our favourite ways to get yourself noticed is to pitch exclusives to the media – sending out those insider scoops that are simply just too good to refuse!
Think of the media like the bowerbirds of our society. They search for everything shiny and new, looking for that exclusive story to win readers and score serious brownie points with editors and publishers. If your brand has something to share, pitching exclusives to the media can be the perfect way to secure coverage and get people talking about your brand!
Exclusive or not?
So what exactly is an exclusive? An exclusive is a newsworthy piece of information that you pitch to one media source. That source gets exclusive rights to your news and will break it first to their audience.
But why pitch to one media when you can pitch to 100? As any seasoned pitcher will tell you, pitches come with no guarantee. You could spend hours researching, writing and contacting hundreds of media sources and receive absolutely nada in return. Exclusive pitches will save you some serious time AND bring a higher chance of coverage, as landing exclusives are just as valuable to the media as they are to you!
So how exactly should you go about it? Get scrolling and discover our six steps to pitching exclusives to the media.
Step 1. To be or not to be
Exclusives are a tricky business. While there’s nothing like a bit of exclusivity to get people talking, be aware that it can come at a cost. Granting one person exclusive news leaves countless others in the dark. This can put people offside and potentially damage relationships with other contacts. While there are strategies to mitigate any fall out (see step six), it’s best to keep exclusives for the bit of news that really deserves it!
Ask yourself if your proposed exclusive is 100% newsworthy. New blog posts or a product re-stock won’t cut it. Think big and restrict your exclusives to the crème de la crème of your brand’s news. Think major new partners, collaborations or stockists, maybe you’ve won a massive award or perhaps you’re launching a revolutionary service or product?
Step 2. Identify your target
Now that you know your news is worthy of an exclusive it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. The most important part of pitching an exclusive is knowing who to pitch to. You’re only going with one media source, so be very sure it’s the right one. With any exclusive, you’re going for maximum impact, so set out a clear goal of what you want to achieve and who you want to reach.
Keep in mind that not all media were created equal, while most people associate journos with exclusives, your product or news might be better suited to bloggers, stylists and influencers. Think about who you’re trying to reach. Who are your target audience and where do they go for their information? Do they read magazines or prefer blogs? Are they more likely to flick through a newspaper or scroll through Instagram? Once you know your outlet type, do some research into names and faces, look into past articles or collaborations and find that perfect person to break your exclusive.
Still not sure who to target? Get the low-down on who does what and how to find them with our guide on which media to contact.
Step 3. Get their attention
Once you’ve identified your target, the next step to pitching your exclusive is to get their attention. At its simplest, this involves tracking down a direct email. For influencers and stylists, this is often straight forward as you can direct message on social media or contact them via personal websites.
Journalists and writers can be slightly more difficult – we recommend heading to LinkedIn or Twitter to find email addresses, or websites like Flaunter, Viola Norbert and Anewstip can also be helpful in tracking down those more elusive contacts.
Once you’ve got the contact information, it’s time to make sure your exclusive is too good to refuse. Think up catchy subject lines and sharp copy, make use of exciting templates and include images and graphics to keep it interesting!
Step 4. Negotiate the exclusive
While exciting copy and catchy headlines are always important, make sure you don’t forget to negotiate the terms of your exclusive. ALWAYS start your email by stating its contents are “off the record” until the exclusive has been agreed upon.
Once you’ve done this, be clear about what is exclusive, how long it will be exclusive for. Your contact will want to know if a press release will be following their story, if other outlets be receiving information after a specific date, or if there are different angles you’ll be pitching to other media.
Before you agree on the exclusive, it’s always a good idea to make sure you know what you’re getting. Ask your contact what angle they’ll be taking and what kind of coverage you can expect. Find out where your news will be featured, what day and time will it be posted and how many words/posts/images can you expect to go with it. While your contact will be unable to give you specific information early on, you should come away with a rough idea of what to expect and whether to proceed or pitch your exclusive elsewhere.\
Step 5. Timing is everything
Once you’ve sorted step three and four, don’t undo your hard work by messing up the timing. Negotiating the terms of an exclusive can be a time-consuming exercise, especially if you, your brand or your contact is new and untested. Be aware that many media sources work to specific lead times, influencers may have a backlog of sponsored posts and magazines may work 3 months in advance. Be aware of the best time to strike, and give yourself and your contact plenty of time to give your exclusive the coverage it needs.
Step 6. Mitigation is key
As we learnt in Step one, exclusives always run a risk of annoying the people who don’t receive them. Keep your contacts sweet by offering them news after the exclusive has already broken. Then pitch new angles or talking points that weren’t included in the original story.
Perhaps there is someone else they can interview, another product they can feature or a unique spin that fits in with their readers.
However, be aware that exclusives are the pinky promises of the media world. While you might not have a binding contract, reneging or ignoring the terms of an exclusive will do you no favours. Keep to your word and don’t let other media or supplementary stories lure you outside the terms of your agreement.