Pitching Small Business for Great PR…

Are you a small business owner wondering how to get media coverage?  I’d like to ask one simple question, “When was the last time you actually took the time to pitch the media?

Today, business success depends on getting your brand noticed.  We are not talking about just social media… but television, business news outlets, radio, the local newspaper, and essentially, all media platforms.

While location, location, location is still very important, there are several additional marketing paths at a business owner’s fingertips to move prospects from the curb into your organization. One of the most effective paths is to get news coverage.   However, getting your but in gear to motivate yourself to make the media pitch is the first step towards getting that coverage.

The first hurdle is to get a journalist or news outlet to give you the time of day. Everyone in journalism is bombarded with hundreds of news ideas and pitches every hour of every day. In addition to their fast-paced environment, they are constantly moving to the next story and trying to hit deadlines.

The newsroom is time sensitive and stressful. In many news outlets, there are at least 3 Editorial Meetings a day in which everyone comes together to discuss potential news stories. Although times may vary, the first one is usually early and informal; at 7:30 with the next two editorial meetings at 9:30 and 2:30. These meetings are key to deciding what actually makes the news. Understanding these meeting times and when you should make a pitch could very well determine whether your segment will become news.

5 W'sWhen pitching, make sure you include the 5 W’s.  Who, What, When Where, Why and don’t forget the How in your pitch! 

Have you heard about the eight seconds in which one must capture the attention of a prospective customer visiting a website or during a sales call? Using the same strategy, you only have about 8 seconds in your pitch to grab the attention of the journalist, news producer or assignment editor. If your story doesn’t grab their attention right away, it’s deleted and sent to the trash bin. This is the case for about 90{fb2cd6ecc5ea822e7d55867f94952838aab4b89ae39846a722113040866900c7} of the pitches made.  A phone call or reach out on social media is surprisingly ranked higher than a straight-out email pitch.  

Understanding that each local media outlet could be hit with hundreds of different daily pitches, you must consider what will make your pitch heard. The time and effort spent creating that perfect attention-grabbing pitch will be worth it in the end.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

 Journalistic Standards Matter

Landing the ideal spot on the local news station or the column in the local newspaper is the sweetest reward for a small business. How to get there is going to determine the size and endurance of that reward. In terms of journalistic standards, doing it right means combining two important models.  Angle and Integrity. 

Angle – The business owner has a job to do in determining the angle from which to pitch his or her story to the media. The goal is to bring something truly newsworthy to a wide audience.

Integrity – The journalist has a responsibility to bring true, accurate, and unbiased news in a way that brings no harm to anyone. They are also accountable for the news they bring to their audience.

Remember that a great news story is simply about people.  It’s not about a product or a program, but how it affects people.

Combining a great angle with the utmost integrity will get the journalistic attention needed to bring your story to life. Let’s expand our thinking about Angle and Integrity in terms of the results we are looking for.


Angle – What about your business will have the biggest impact on the most people? Focusing on the target market and learning what really matters to them will yield the widest audience. If the target market is small or niche, then make sure the story impacts the majority of that market.

Integrity – Just the facts. Journalists are committed to the facts. Be careful to convey those facts which are relevant to the target audience and seek to find that balance between sensationalism and impactful. 

Local Interest

Angle – Local media is interested in local stories. Products and services that appeal to the local community fit that bill perfectly. For businesses that trade online or internationally, the task of providing true local news is challenging. What a business does for a community, particularly if they are the only one doing it, will grab the attention of a journalist.

Integrity – Journalists are interested in providing information that is independent and unbiased. Provide information free of special interest favor whether community or political. If your story features conflict, be prepared to answer tough questions about all sides of that conflict. And, always expect that the news will feature someone on the other side!

Relevant to Times

Angle – If a business fulfills a need relevant to the culture of the times, there is already journalistic interest there! Entrepreneurs start businesses because they want to build wealth and they want to capitalize on an idea. Ideas stem from problems and creating a solution. Problems evolve over time and successful businesses evolve with the times. The best story will address problems of the day. Further, businesses prepared to address and fix new problems as they arise are going to fare better in the long run.

Integrity – A journalist will convey a story impartially. Be prepared to pitch your story in that way. I mentioned the evolution of problems that businesses address. A well laid out pitch that includes honest and articulated news about how a business plans to address future problems will get a lot of traction.

It’s Who Ya Know

Angle – If a business has been acknowledged or recognized by a well-known organization, credibility will soar. Individuals are encouraged to toot their own horns when vying for that perfect job. Job seekers are told not to view it as braggadocios, but rather a way to get noticed. Businesses that follow that same advice can also leverage highly visual accomplishments and recognition to highlight their presence in the market and to bring a PR pitch to a higher level.

Integrity – If a business has been associated with a prominent organization, it will get the attention of the journalist. Know this, research will be conducted. Associate names when necessary and be prepared to provide plenty of evidence to support your claims.

The Unexpected

Angle – An idea that falls away from the every day and expected will win the attention of a journalist, such as staff members shaving their heads as part of a fundraiser supporting cancer research, or the famous Polar Plunge that went viral on social media, to raise funds for ALS research. What does your business provide that runs counter to common ideas? Professional mourners (like this business in the UK), or the Something Store that targets fans of ‘surprise’. One subscribes for $10 each month and receive something every month, but don’t know what will be delivered! These are going to get the attention of readers and viewers, and journalists love them!   

Integrity – The unexpected to a journalist is like candy to a child. Be mindful of their obligation to be fair, impartial, and balanced. When pitching the unusual or unexpected don’t leave out details and intentions. Good journalism is about appealing to emotions, addressing challenges, and bringing to light the good, the bad, and the in-between.

Essential to a great PR pitch is grabbing the perfect angle and formulating the catchiest introduction – or headline. Knowing who to pitch and when to pitch is equally important. For the small business owner, the time and effort in this area are overwhelming.

At Chemistry Multimedia, we can help. Over the years, we have evaluated pitches and completely turned them upside-down to generate publicity for our clients – AND other PR Firms!

We are a trusted St Louis-based agency providing PR consulting and media services to outlets across the nation. We leverage our experience and resources to develop stories and get you the results you want for your business. Visit our Website to learn more.