4 tips for securing national media coverage

For any PR professional, securing a great piece of national coverage is a real morale and confidence-booster, particularly when starting out in your career.

Since joining Octopus Group nearly three years ago I’ve done my fair share of pitching to national journalists, from news stories and interviews to letters pages and profile opportunities. I’ve pulled together my top four tips on securing national coverage, which I hope will be useful:

1. Read the papers daily

The easiest way to pitch is when you really understand what journalists like to write about and how you can help them. Scanning the papers every morning not only helps you to keep in tune with what journalists like to write about and how you can potentially help them in future, but also ensures you’re on top of what is going on in the news in general. This is key to any PR’s success.

2. Be helpful to journalists 

PRs that understand journalists’ working days will go far both in terms of building relationships with key contacts and in securing great pieces of coverage. This includes being mindful of what is on the news agenda: there’s no point trying to sell in your research press release to business and finance desks on budget day, for example.

3. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

Though it can be daunting, and journalists do sometimes complain, there’s definitely no harm in taking a deep breath, picking up the phone and sounding out a story that way. As long as you’re conscious of deadlines (probably not worth calling a national news desk after 3pm for instance) in a lot of cases, it’s the best way to get immediate feedback on whether they’re likely to cover your story or not.

4. Keep your email pitches brief

Some journalists love Twitter pitches (hats off to those that can get a pitch down to 140 characters), because they want to get a clear understanding of what you’re selling to them without all of the jargon that tends to clog up emails. When it does come to email, keep it to around two paragraphs and use bullet points where you can to summarise.

Obviously this is not an extensive list and you can’t always guarantee national coverage, but by following these tips you can definitely maximise your chances. Good luck!