Selling in a press release or news story to a journalist over the phone or in-person can feel like a daunting prospect, however it can also be a very efficient method of securing coverage for the client or product.

Journalists want to understand the story and personalities behind the brand and chatting this through during a call or in-person meeting can be an effective way of showing your enthusiasm for the brand, as well as pitching the key story angles.

So, here are seven top tips to help brands prepare for a selling-in conversation with a journalist:

  • Do your homework – Research the journalist before the meeting or phone call. Read through previously published articles and get a feel for their tone and format. How do they prefer to be approached by brands and PRs? What topics and angles are their audience interested in reading about?
  • Prepare the pitch – Note down the key points of your story (who, what, where, why, when and how) and write into an elevator style pitch. Highlight what makes your story stand out from other brands. What makes it newsworthy and why would the journalist want to write about this?
  • Make it personal – Take a few minutes to check you’re contacting the right journalist and to find out their name and the correct pronunciation. When making that initial contact, make sure the pitch is targeted to the right journalist and is of interest to them and the publication.
  • Time your pitch – Give the journalist enough lead time to run the feature. Newspapers, magazines and online publications all have different lead times, so make sure you’re providing the journalist with enough time to write up the article and share with the publication’s editing team.
  • Keep it brief – Ensure the pitch is short and succinct. Summarise the key points, but while also demonstrating your passion and enthusiasm for the brand. Journalists are usually short for time, so try to share as much of the key information as possible but in a timely manner.
  • Follow up effectively – provide the journalist with all the elements they may need if looking to run the news editorially. Follow up over email and include a link to download high-res images, a quote from a brand representative in-line with the news story and a clear call to action should the journalist want to provide a website for readers to find out more.
  • Develop a relationship – use the opportunity of speaking or meeting with the journalist to build a relationship and a connection. Try to find ways to engage more deeply, which helps increase the possibility of the journalist featuring the brand or the client in the future.