In today’s rapidly changing landscape of communications, it has become critical to present a story idea to the media in the most effective way. Reporting on a special event, covering a crisis or announcing a groundbreaking development may require different modes of communication depending on each scenario. While social media has dominated modern day conversation, professionals continue to rely on media pitches and press releases to garner news coverage. When choosing the most useful form of communication, professionals should consider the purpose, tone and length of the message.
If a company wishes to localize a national story, a media pitch would be a more effective method of communication to build buzz and gain local attention. For instance, national changes in standardized testing may prompt north central Florida’s special interest groups to localize the issue. By providing information to the media on how the changes directly impact students in the region, the message gains relevance and is more likely to be covered.
Ultimately, the goal of a media pitch should be to express the urgency, and newsworthiness of your story idea in the body of an email.
On the contrary, when an organization plans to make a formalized announcement on an upcoming event, campaign or development initiative, it would be in the organizations best interest to create a press release that provides detailed and time sensitive information. For example, a senior executive would utilize a press release to inform stakeholders on the new appointment of a Chief Financial Officer.
At a glance, one of the key differences between a media pitch and a press release is the tone of the narrative. A media pitch is an informally composed piece that is targeting a specific reporter or media outlet. On the other hand, a press release is typically written in a formal, journalistic manner and then disseminated to the media-at-large.
The length of a media pitch is also of upmost importance. Whereas a press release can be a page or two in length, a media pitch should not exceed a couple paragraphs. In order to “hook” and engage the news outlet, a media pitch must be concise and simple to digest at a glance. Companies that wish to release an official statement and/or detailed facts relating to a recent event may do so through a press release.
Choosing between a media pitch and a press release can be challenging. In doing so, professionals must strategize the purpose, tone and length of the message. If done correctly, a well-crafted piece is more likely to be picked up by the media and, ultimately, will shape public conversation.
Alisha Kinman is the Cinema Director & Director of Development at the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville. She is a member of the FPRA Gainesville Chapter and of the Junior League of Gainesville.