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How to pitch to journalists


Journalists can either be the best tool in your kit or the thorn in your side, depending on how you work with them. Get a reporter on your side and you’re on the path to great coverage and raising your profile. Anger or annoy them and you can see your press releases ignored and even blacklisted.

It isn’t easy, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the press; if there were we’d all be featured on the BBC and have glowing reviews in The Guardian.

According to one source, journalists receive over 100 pitches a day and it’s easy for your email to get lost in the noise. A study by Buzzstream and iAcquire into email pitches calculated that out of 300,000 pitching emails sent; only five per cent were successful. That equates to a one in 22 chance of securing a pitch or placement.

So how do you make sure you’re that lucky one and not shunted into the trash? Read on for our clear guide on how to successfully work with the press.


Before you begin writing your email to a journalist or the like, make sure you tick off these essential steps:

Knowing who you want to talk to and what your message is before you start writing that first email is key.

The personal approach is always preferred and you’ll not only win more respect with the journalist but it will make it easier to follow up with further stories and information in future.


Once you’re raring to go it comes down to the trickiest task of all; pitching! Many people avoid press communications at all costs for fear of getting it wrong or receiving rude responses, but there really is nothing to worry about.

Journalists want stories and you have information to share; it’s as simple as that.

There are various articles out there concerning the ‘perfect pitch’, including some great examples like this one from Paul Sawyers. However, remember that one email might be perfect for a journalist at The Times but approaching a journalist at VICE Magazine will require an entirely different style.

Take time to perfect your email. While you’re writing, it’s useful to bear these tips in mind:


You might think that once you’ve pressed send on an email that your work is done. Or you’ll sit and earnestly wait for the journalists’ reply to pop up in your inbox. That’s not the case.

Top tips

  1. Don’t send attachments

Not only do these clog up an inbox but by the time a journalist has downloaded your files (if they do) they are likely to have lost interest.

Stick to WeTransfer or Dropbox links, and even ask how they would prefer to receive the information from you.

  1. Don’t spam or use the same approach for every email

The cookie cutter approach will not work. Neither will sending out the same generic email to 3,000 journalists.

The personal approach wins every single time, and if it doesn’t get you instant coverage you can be sure they’ll be more receptive in future. 

  1. Spellcheck and grammar check

Then do it again. Journalists are professional writers and will be quick to dismiss an email littered with mistakes, so don’t fall at the first hurdle. 

  1. Don’t leave stuff to the last minute

Plan in advance, most journalists work weeks ahead so make sure you approach them in good time if you’re pitching something seasonal or with a short shelf-life.

Working with the press

Working with journalists isn’t always about getting your name in the papers and quick pieces of coverage, often it can be a long-term game. Build a relationship with a writer and your brand can reap the rewards and even see the journalist head straight to you for expert comment or news.

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Written by Niamh Spence


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