Back to Basics: How to Land a Media Interview

From the basics of pitch crafting to scrappy ways to secure media opportunities, Katie Coulter shares a few tips for landing media interviews.

Data shows that U.S. newsroom employment has dropped 23 percent from 2008 to 2019, which means landing a media interview is no easy feat. From the basics of pitch crafting to scrappy ways to secure media opportunities, here are a few tips for landing media interviews.  

Have Something Newsworthy And Relevant.

Let’s be real — we all know what it’s like to have a never-ending stream of emails flood our inbox. But many journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day (most irrelevant), so developing the perfect subject line and body is critical to starting a fruitful conversation with a reporter.

Your pitch should be both newsworthy and timely — but it’s also important that you get it into the right hands. Even if you’ve worked with a journalist before, conduct a quick Google search. Read their recent work, scroll through their Twitter feed and think critically to determine if the reporter is actually a good fit for the story.

To help guide your thought, ask yourself the following questions before sending a pitch:

  • How is this newsworthy or relevant to the greater conversation?
  • Did I research the reporter? Does this story fit into the reporter’s beat or recent coverage?
  • Will this pitch benefit the reporter, not just my client? Why?
  • What makes my source unique, an expert in this subject or the best fit to comment?  
  • Is my subject line snappy and representative of the story I’m pitching?
  • What assets can I provide the reporter up front (e.g. photos, video, pre-drafted quotes, statistics)?
  • What can my source provide in an interview that may not come up in my pitch?
  • Is this quick and to the point? How can I make this easier for the reporter to consume?  

If your story is lackluster or otherwise irrelevant, rework it. Find interesting data points that support your pitch, brainstorm new angles or consider other publications — but don’t add more work to the reporter’s day by sending something you know won’t be picked up.

Be A Resource.

Think about the ways you can help the reporter, not just how the reporter can help you. Consider asking them  what they’re working on and if they’re looking for a specific source in that field.

For example, if a journalist is consistently breaking news on COVID-19, consider offering up a leading physician for quick-turn commentary. Building trust and becoming a reliable resource for a reporter when they need something will lead to better results — and they’ll likely remember your name the next time it pops up in their inbox.

Be Scrappy.

Even if you follow the advice above, landing a media interview may be tough (read “Don’t Be ‘That Guy’: Navigating a Transformed Media Landscape). That’s why it’s especially important to use all the tools in your toolbox.

There are a multitude of ways to secure story opportunities. Consider the following tactics to identify topics of interest and connect with reporters:

  • Follow journalists’ Twitter accounts (and/or other social channels, if appropriate) and tune into unique personality traits and preferences that could enhance pitching efforts or relationship building.
  • Use Cision or another media database to gain key insights about journalists (e.g. how they like to be contacted, where they graduated college, what pitches they do and don’t want to hear).
  • Subscribe to news alerts for your area of focus and offer to be a source for breaking news stories.

Now’s the time to innovate and take risks to deliver results — whether you’re a seasoned media pro or new to the game.