How to pitch to an editor

editor070808_450x349First of all, give me a round of applause. This is my 100th post on this blog. WOOOO HOOOO!!!!

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that my part time job is a freelance health writer. I get all kinds of email requests for media coverage. Most of it is very unappealing (it’s so hard to make health a spicy topic). I got an email today from some intern at a DC-based non-profit looking for some media coverage for their domestic violence awareness event coming up in October.

I am a Marketing Communications Associate with yadda yadda yadda in Washington, DC and we host a variety of Health and Wellness programs that we provide for the community. We would love to be featured on your website as we gear up for a Week Without Violence in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness month. This week is dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence and how it affects our communities through several activities that we host. Please contact me at the email address provided if you would like to move forward. Thank you so much and have a great week!

Sorry sweetie but that is weak. Very weak!! I can’t take that to my editor and say “hey can we roll with this?”. After he’s done giving me the side eye, he’d probably wonder why he hired me. I thought about the things that he has sent to me to write about. Some of it is interesting. The rest makes me give him the side eye. But if you want some media attention, the editor is your entry. Yeah we writers make pitches but you gotta give us something to pitch. What turns an editor’s head? A few things I’ve noticed over the years from working with several editors include the following:

  1. Be relevant and timely. As important as bicycle safety is no one cares that you’re having a bicycle safety event at the local recreation center. Is there a rash of bicycle accidents in the community lately?  Is it bicycle safety month? If not, your event isn’t very relative. Newspapers have to sell in order to keep functioning. Bullying sells. Bicycle safety doesn’t.
  2. Give us some stats and an angle. I’ll admit that I am lazy at times and don’t feel like doing the research.  If it sounds like a lot of work to find stats and I’m already not interested in the topic, I’ll talk my editor out of it. Help us out a little and the editor will see that your story is doable.
  3. Consider the audience. The Howard County Times doesn’t care if there’s a wonderful, inclusive health fair for immigrant workers in Calvert County. Even though it could benefit immigrants in Howard County, I can’t see an editor making the stretch to send a reporter over there to cover it. Their news is geared towards Howard County.
  4. Include a first person interview. Try to get a person who will talk to the press about their experience lined up. You want coverage for your domestic violence event Little Miss Intern?? Get me a survivor who will let me interview her. Better yet. Get me a former abuser who will tell his side. Once an editor sees that there’s a personal touch involved, you might turn their head.
  5. Pictures!! Pictures!!! Give us an idea of where the images for this article would look like. Smaller publishing companies don’t really have staff photographers and the writer has to wear both hats. With that in mind, give us a heads up if you’re going to have an event to kick off some initiative so we can think of the possible photo ops.
  6. Buy an ad or three in their publication whenever possible. My editor right now is dying for me to give him some press about this one non-profit. “We gotta get some coverage over there. They give us lots of advertising business.” Media is a business. And it’s quid pro quo. If you want coverage for your event, sometimes you kinda gotta pay for it. If you can’t afford an ad alone, find a way to creatively partner with someone to get an ad in. It will break the hell out of the ice between you and the editor. Trust and believe.

There you have it. Just little advice from a writer gal who has seen many a story idea come and go.

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