Attention PR and freelance writers! If you are pitching a story that

you think needs to be written by a reporter or written a major blogger,

there’s no magic formula for getting it accepted.

Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s skill, sometimes it's who you know.


there are several sure-fire ways to get your pitch pitched -- directly

into an e-mail trash can, unread and unwanted. Follow a few of these

tips and you will better your chances with a professional editor.

  1. Update your contact list

    I get a press release that starts – “Dear Becky,” usually I don’t read

    much further. If you are pitching a story to a media outlet or want to

    write for an editor, you might want to know their

    name. Even better, know the editors’ responsibilities. If you are

    pitching a sports story to the business editor, you aren’t going to get

    much traction. A simple call to the switchboard can make a world of


  2. Don’t overhype
    Here is the subject line of a press release I got this week:
    “LIFE CHANGING INFO , YOU MUST SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


    It wasn’t from a Nigerian lottery scam or some phisher. It was from a

    legit PR firm. If you look like you have no anchor in reality, you are

    going to get flushed. The same goes when you are a freelance writer. If

    your pitch is that you’ve written the “best story ever about subject

    X”, you’re not letting the editor judge for themselves and frankly

    you’re coming off as arrogant. Don’t be that guy.

  3. Be locally relevant

    these days of contracting media, more outlets are looking to be as

    interesting as they can to local readers. So, if you are making a

    pitch, you better make it very specific to the editor’s audience, not the audience you

    want to attract. Don’t call the paper in San Antonio and ask if they

    would be interested in listening to the teleconference about the

    exciting new yogurt stand in Manhattan.

  4. Don’t argue

    to take no for an answer - really. An editor understands that you have

    a lot riding on a pitch, especially if you're a freelancer looking for

    some cash to pay the bills. But sometimes, the time isn’t right in the

    outlet’s budget, there isn’t a reporter available to get to your event

    (having more than a day’s notice helps) or there’s not an acceptable


    If you get shot down or don’t get a response, don’t

    question why. Just say thanks and hang up. You want to leave a good

    impression for the next time.

  5. Be patient

    when an editor says “we’ll think about it,” they really mean it. But

    you’ve got to give them time to think. While you’ve been taught to be

    persistent and follow up, there’s a fine line between doing it

    judiciously and being annoying. Best to live by the “don’t call us,

    we’ll call you” motto. If you haven’t heard back in a week, try then.

    Most editors are working at most two weeks ahead in the newspaper

    business, a month ahead in magazines. If you check in on a Monday or a

    Friday, they will be staring ahead at a blank slate. Take advantage of

    the timing.

  6. Follow their rules

    publications and blogs have guidelines that will help point you in the

    right direction. Don't just send an email blast to every email address

    you can find, look for their submission guidelines and try it their way


Written on 11/26/2008 by Mike Koehler. Mike

Koehler is a multimedia journalist in Oklahoma City working full-time

to save the newspaper business, while helping his wife raise three kids

under age 8. In his spare time he sleeps. E-mail Mike at

Photo Credit: futureshape