How to Write a Media Pitch (That Will Get Coverage)

what is a media pitch hero image

You’ve just completed a great new study, and you’re keen to get journalists to cover your findings, but how do you do that?

Writing media pitches for data-led stories or studies is very different from writing a media pitch to promote the launch of a new product, service, or event.

Maybe you’re wondering what your pitch should include.

Or are you struggling to figure out how best to structure your pitch?

Possibly, you’re confused about the differences between press releases and media pitches and which approach is right for you.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing my approach to writing media pitches, plus you’ll find a bunch of helpful tips and examples to assist you in writing your own.

What is a Media Pitch?

A media pitch (sometimes called a PR pitch) is a message normally sent directly to a journalist via email.

The ultimate goal of a media pitch is to persuade the journalist to cover a story.

What is the Difference Between a Media Pitch and a Press Release?

Media pitch and press release are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t quite the same.

Before the advent of email, companies largely depended on newswires to distribute their stories to journalists, and that’s where press releases come in. A press release follows a strict, formal structure that hasn’t changed much.

If you do an image search on Google for “press release template,” and you’ll be confronted with various options which essentially follow the same structure:

  • Contact information
  • Release date
  • Headline
  • Optional subhead
  • Lede paragraph (a short paragraph which explains the “who, what, where, when, and how” of the story)
  • Body paragraphs (further supporting information, quotes, etc)
  • Company boilerplate text
  • A call to action
  • End notation

Learn more about the anatomy of a press release and its parts.

Press releases follow the inverted pyramid writing style, which news journalists (for the most part) still follow today.

inverted pyramid

The idea is to ensure that the most pertinent information is communicated within the first paragraph, so even if a person only reads the beginning of an article, they have a clear grasp of the story.

It was particularly important for print journalists to follow the inverted pyramid structure because articles would often be “cut from the bottom” (i.e., later paragraphs in the story would be removed to make space for breaking news stories right before the newspaper went to press).

Today, many PR professionals still write press releases, and whilst some still elect to distribute via services like PRNewswire or BusinessWire, they’re more commonly emailed directly to journalists.

Others choose to email PR pitches (or media pitches) instead.

Whilst these pitches often include many elements you’ll find in traditional press releases, they tend not to observe the same strict structure.

Data-Led Media Pitching

In this article, I’ll explain my approach to structuring media pitches; however, I want to be clear that this is just because I personally prefer this method – I’m in no way suggesting that sending press releases to journalists is the wrong approach.

Plenty of guides out there deal with pitching new products, services, and events or pitching a person to appear on TV, radio, or a podcast, so I won’t be covering those types of media pitches here.

I’m specifically focusing on data-led media pitches – partly because that’s where my experience lies, but also because I feel there’s a lack of specific guidance on how to create these types of media pitches.

To help make this more concrete, I’ll be using a campaign from my time as Head of Creative at Verve Search, where I worked with a wonderful team of people.

It should also be noted that the learnings I’m sharing here are the results of their creativity, tenacity, and hard work – I’m certain they taught me more than I ever taught them.

Notes About the Campaign

On Location was a piece we created for our client, GoCompare – using 20 years of IMDb data, we uncovered the most filmed locations on the planet.

on location

By creating several tailored media pitches, we were able to gain coverage across a number of publications and verticals.

Our core media target was travel publications. We sent a media pitch about the most filmed locations worldwide to these outlets, which resulted in coverage like this:

travel publications

We also cut the data in many ways to create additional topical and niche-specific media pitches:

niche-specific publications

Plus, there were plenty of regional stories we could tell:


country-specific publications


state specific publications


city specific publications

But how did we go about pitching these stories?

Planning Your Media Pitches

Before I leap right into writing media pitches, I like to think about the types of journalists who might be interested and the stories I can use the piece to tell.

My process looks like this:

1. Understand the client’s priorities 

Where do they want coverage, and which story angles most likely appeal to these journalists?

2. Identify other potential verticals

Are there different story angles that might appeal to journalists in other verticals?

3. Evaluate the potential for regional coverage

Not all PR campaigns lend themselves to regional coverage, but where appropriate, I like to identify potential regional angles at this point, too.

For On Location, we identified the following:

break down your pitch angle by outlet

The team created separate media pitches for each of the various story angles to enable them to send the most relevant story to each segment of journalists.

This is really important.

On some beats, staff journalists are expected to write 8-10 articles in an 8-hour shift. On other beats, this number is lower, but nevertheless, journalists are under a lot of pressure time-wise. They just don’t have the time to unearth relevant stories from poorly-targeted media pitches.

Let’s take regional journalists as an example – most regional journalists don’t cover national or worldwide stories. If you take a look at the coverage we secured in the Miami Herald, journalist Madeleine Marr says as much in her article:

“What the market research firm discovered were the most-filmed locations in various areas throughout the United States, as well as the world.

We were only interested in the results out of Florida (naturally), so here you go:”

If we’d sent her a “Most Filmed-Locations Worldwide” media pitch, she’d have ignored it. She covered our piece only because we’d taken the time to send her a story relevant to her beat – in this instance, The Most-Filmed Locations in Florida.

Tip: If you send a worldwide or national media pitch to a regional publication, it will most likely be ignored – you need to send a story specifically tailored to that region.

How to Write a Media Pitch

We’ve identified several segments of journalists, plus the most relevant story angle for each segment. This means we have a clearer idea of how many media pitches we will write.

Our client’s priority is worldwide generalist travel outlets, so tackling this media pitch first makes sense.

To figure out how best to structure my pitch and what I should include, I like to find a similar article to the one I’m pitching to use as a guide.

Tip: Find a story similar to the one you’re pitching to use as a guide to structure your media pitch.

Let’s take a look at the Mail Online coverage we secured.

By looking at this coverage, you can make reasonable assumptions about how the original pitch was structured:

Headline (a.k.a. Your Subject Line)

media pitch headline

This is the article headline:

“The top 20 most-filmed movie and TV locations in the world revealed: From New York’s Central Park to the UK’s South Bank, these are the places you’re most likely to see a star”.

This is a pretty long headline! The original subject line was likely shorter.

Still, by reviewing the journalist’s headline, you can make reasonable guesses about the original subject line.

Plus, I often use existing headlines from journalists as inspiration to create my own subject lines for media pitches.

Writing a good subject line is hard, but in my experience, quantity is often the quickest route to quality. I recommend setting a 2-minute timer on your phone and writing as many as you can as quickly as you can. Repeat this exercise until you have at least 25 subject lines – I guarantee there’ll be a good one in there.

Tip: The subject line is probably the most important part of a PR pitch – if it isn’t compelling, the journalist won’t even open your email, let alone read it.

3 Key Stats or Findings (Bullet points)

key takeaways media pitch

These three takeaways are most likely taken directly from the pitch.

  • New York’s Central Park has been used as a filming location for movies more than any other place on earth
  • Venice Beach in California came second, followed by Greenwich Village, Astoria, and Williamsburg in the top five
  • Only location outside US in top ten was University of British Columbia, with South Bank most popular in UK

Since journalists often structure their articles like this, ensure you include around 3 key stats within your media pitches.

Tip: Consider what the most compelling stats or findings actually are.

For pieces like this, you might also consider delving a little deeper to uncover broader trends rather than just mentioning the top three ranked locations.

The Lede

the media pitch lede

Remember the inverted pyramid writing style I mentioned earlier in this article?

The lede is a short written summary explaining the story’s “who, what, where, when, and how”.

Here’s what the journalist has written:

“The most-filmed TV and movie locations around the world have been revealed – and New York’s Central Park is the place you’re most likely to see a star.

A new study has revealed that it’s US locations that make up most of the top ten filming locations  – perhaps not surprisingly – with Venice Beach, California, in second place followed by New York destinations Greenwich Village, Astoria and Williamsburg completing the top five.

The most filmed location outside of the US is the University of British Columbia in Canada, which is the ninth most popular location, while the most popular spot for filming in the UK is London’s South Bank, which ranks 11th.”

Tip: I find writing the lede really tough – so it’s normally the last element of the pitch I write. After I’ve written up the key stats or findings, a sentence or two about each key data point, and the methodology, I find it much quicker and easier to write the lede.

Explain Each Key Data Point

This makes up the bulk of the article.

In this example, the journalist has included a sentence or two about each of the top filming locations and examples of some of the most iconic films that were shot there.

Again, this detail was likely provided in the original pitch.

(I think including some examples of which films and TV shows were shot in each location was likely really important here – without that detail, the piece is just a list of places).

Tip: Consider what additional contextual information a journalist might need in order to bring your story to life.

In this example, we included examples of the most iconic films and TV shows shot in each location – without this detail, the article is just a list of places.

Ranking Tables

ranking tables

Again, most likely provided in the original pitch email.

Tip: Balance is key here – you want to provide the journalists with the data that’s most relevant to them; rather than overwhelming them with ALL THE DATA.


methodology for a media pitch

Journalists will often copy and paste your methodology, so it’s a great opportunity to influence how they refer to the company you’re promoting and whether or not they’ll include a link.

Notice how the methodology has been written in this example; it’s clear, concise, and written in the third person:

“The study was carried out by comparison site Go Compare, which used analysed data from IMDb’s ‘filming locations’ section. They included both films and TV series shot in these locations but excluded film studios from the data.”

I’d recommend writing up your methodology in a similar vein.

Tip: Your methodology should be clear, concise, and written in the third person.

It’s also a great opportunity to influence both how the journalist refers to your client and whether or not they include a link in their coverage.

By now, I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this!

Publications vary in terms of the style and story structures they tend to employ.

Of course, you’ll need to tailor your media pitch according to the particular findings of your data analysis.

Still, it’s these core components, plus a couple of additional elements, that form the structure of my media pitches for data-led stories:

  • Core Component: Headline (this is your email subject line)
  • Additional Element: A sentence or two demonstrating why this story is relevant to the journalists’ beat
  • Core Component: Lede
  • Core Component: 3 key stats or findings
  • Core Component: A short paragraph about each key data point
  • Core Component: Data tables
  • Core Component: Methodology
  • Additional Element: Company Boilerplate Copy
  • Additional Element: Contact Details

As you can see here are three additional elements I like to include.

Company Boilerplate Copy, and Contact Details are pretty self-explanatory, but “a sentence or two demonstrating why this story is relevant to the journalists’ beat” warrants further explanation.

Let’s take a closer look at that element:

Demonstrating Why This Story is Relevant to the Journalists’ Beat

Here, I’m trying to reassure the journalists I’m contacting that I’ve thought about how the story relates to their vertical.

For example, I plan to send travel journalists the Most-Filmed Locations Worldwide pitch.

There’s a possibility that some of these journalists might struggle to see the link between a study about the most filmed locations on Earth and consumer travel.

But I need to tread carefully here – some journalists might have made this connection, and I don’t want to come across as patronising to those folks!

Here’s how I chose to frame the story:

“Visiting some travel destinations can feel like stepping into a movie or TV show – and there’s a good reason for that – it’s because filmmakers often use the same locations over and over again.

But which locations are used most frequently in TV and film?”

Important points to note: 

By opening with the line, “Visiting some travel destinations can feel like stepping into a movie or TV show…” I want to connect travel and filming locations quickly and clearly.

I’m inferring (rather than explicitly stating) that travelling to destinations that have been used as filming locations is something that people like to do. This is deliberate.

I don’t want to say something like, “People love travelling to visit the locations of their favourite movies and TV shows,” because that feels like a stretch! Also, I have no data to prove this assertion.

Tip: Seek to demonstrate the relevance of your story to the journalists’ beat, don’t just tell them it’s relevant.

components in a media pitch

Media Pitch Examples

I’ve covered the elements I typically include in a media pitch, but what does a media pitch written by me look like?

Media Pitch Example 1: Most-Filmed Locations Worldwide

Here’s an example of what I might send if I were pitching the Most-Filmed Locations Worldwide story to a travel outlet:

Subject Line: Central Park tops the list of the most-filmed locations in the World

That is a lot to digest. Let’s break it down a bit.

media pitch example 1

A good portion of the email body is comprised of explanations about the key data points.


Next comes the data section.

data tables

Tip: If you’re concerned about formatting issues and/or the length of your pitch, then you can include a link to a Google Drive folder or DropBox folder rather than including these tables directly in the body of the email.

Last is the methodology, boilerplate information, the hyperlink, and contact information.

media pitch example 3

You don’t have to include your phone number here. In my experience journalists are more likely to email than call you, but I like to make it as easy as possible for them to contact me if they need to.

As I mentioned previously, we need to write separate media pitches for each of the various story angles to send the most relevant story to each segment of journalists.

Fortunately, this is reasonably quick and easy once we’ve written our initial pitch. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Media Pitch Example 2: English Stately Homes Made Famous Through Film

In order to demonstrate the relevance of the story to this segment of journalists, my opening sentence has been revised.

Rather than talking about travel destinations, I’m talking about the  “star quality” of these country houses.

Also, rather than taking the approach of listing the Key Findings, and then including a short summary of each key data point, in effect here, I’ve just gone straight to the data table.

I’m expecting these journalists are most likely to write this up either as a listicle, or image gallery, and, as such this is the information that’s most relevant to them.

Subject Line: Hampton Court Palace tops the list of the most-filmed Stately Homes in England

Let’s look at one final example.

Media Pitch Example 3: The Most-Filmed Locations in Florida

Note the inclusion of locations in the subject line – in my experience, tailoring your subject lines in this way maximises your chances of a regional journalist opening and reading your media pitch.

The lede and intro sentences have also been edited to make them more relevant for the target audience.

As with the Stately Home pitch, rather than taking the approach of listing the Key Findings, and then including a short summary of each key data point, in effect here I’ve just gone straight to the data table.

Subject Line: Miami tops the list of the most-filmed locations in Florida

You can also check out BuzzStream’s email outreach templates for more inspiration.

Notes on Personalisation

As you might have noticed from the examples I’ve included above, somewhat controversially, I don’t recommend high levels of personalisation for this type of media pitch.

I believe that whilst it’s important to target journalists appropriately – i.e.:

  • Segment your pool of journalists to ensure you’re sending them the story that’s most relevant to their beat (Proper segmentation and targeting will help align with Google’s new email requirements.)
  • Include a sentence or two within your pitch that demonstrates how the story is relevant to these journalists’ beat

(Learn more about building your own media lists.)

I tend not to do things like reference a similar article a journalist has previously written.

This is for a couple of reasons:

I don’t think it’s necessary 

A journalist is more than capable of determining whether or not the story I’m pitching is right for their audience.

Including a reference to an article they’ve previously published is unlikely to influence their decision.

It’s surprisingly easy to get this wrong

I might judge a previous article as similar (let’s imagine I’ve found an article about the same topic), but the journalist may have a different view.

As far as they’re concerned, I’m claiming that two very different things are, in fact, similar – I’d rather not run the risk of alienating the journalist before they’ve even read my pitch.

It’s incredibly time-consuming

Let’s imagine I’m pitching 100 journalists. If I spend 15 minutes trying to find a relevant article for each, that’s 25 hours of work.

When It’s a Good Idea to Personalise

I’d also like to highlight that whilst I don’t think high levels of personalisation are worthwhile for pitching data-led PR campaigns like On Location, there are other types of media pitches that I’d definitely take the time to personalise.

For example, suppose I were pitching a client to be interviewed for a feature article or to appear on a podcast, TV, or radio segment. In that case, I’d advocate for high levels of personalisation.

In a similar vein, if I were pitching my client as an expert via a platform like Connectively (formerly HARO) or Qwoted then my pitch would be fully-personalised.

I’d be sure to obtain full answers to all of the journalist’s questions and provide anything else they required in my response.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found these media pitch examples useful and that you’ve picked up a few tips to use to craft your own PR pitches for data-led stories.

I think it’s important to note that there’s no single “right way” to write a media pitch – PR professionals take different approaches based on their own experiences and preferences, the types of stories they’re pitching, and the types of publications they’re targeting.

I’ve shared my approach here to help demystify the pitching process to the media; I’d encourage you to experiment with some of the things I’ve suggested and see what seems to work best for you.

Good luck out there!

Hannah Smith

Hannah offers creative content consultancy, content strategy, and training to both agencies and in-house marketing teams. Her creative work has won multiple awards, and she's worked with a vast array of companies including the BBC, Dyson, Expedia, GoCompare, MailChimp, Podio, and Zoopla. She has spoken at numerous conferences across Europe and the US, interviewed Google's John Mueller live on stage in front of an audience of 3,000, and acted as a guest lecturer at the University of Greenwich.

Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely their own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.
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