It’s no secret that the media industry is fast paced, competitive and often ruthless. The number of news that is churned out on a daily basis is a clear indication of just how many stories run through the minds, and inboxes of journalists. As readers and consumers of news, we get to see the glitzy, finished pieces that go to publication. What we don’t see is the constant back-and-forth between PR, clients and journalists, the many absurd stories that get pitched and the endless exhaustion of journalists having to read irrelevant pitches. 

So, to make everyone’s lives a bit easier, and minimise both stress and rejection, here are the Do’s and Don’ts of liaising with journalists.

Firstly, what to avoid:

Pitching irrelevant content. 

This doesn’t have to be hard; it just takes a bit of extra effort. Take the time to research the outlet, journalists, and previous stories before hitting send. The worst thing you can do is to bulk-pitch irrelevant stories using an outdated media list or assuming that just because you have landed coverage with a journalist before, they’ll take any story you pitch. Make sure that what you’re sending fits with their audience, tone of voice, topics and journalist that you’re pitching to. 

Taking rejections personally. 

It’s not personal, it never is. However, if you handle rejections poorly, really try to push the pitch or ask for reasons why your story wasn’t picked up, then it’s likely to become quite personal, and you’ll see yourself on black-lists from journalists. Consider each rejection as intel on what journalists and audiences want to read, and maintain polite communications post-rejection.  Once you have built rapport with a journalist, you can ask for feedback and work with them on what really suits them best.

Pitching news that just isn’t news-worthy. 

I know, you’ve got a job to do and a client that wants coverage, but that isn’t enough to get your story picked up. Take the time to understand every aspect of the clients that you represent, their brand story, their business journey and any takeaways that are interesting and newsworthy. If you’re ever unsure, consider whether you’d actually want to read the news that you’re pitching, and if not, it might be best to rewrite the story. 

Some acceptable ways to communicate with journalists:

Personalising your send outs. 

As previously mentioned, you need to ensure that your pitch is relevant. Researching what a journalist has previously covered and the tone that they use allows you to write pitches better suited to them and their audience. Address journalists by name (always spell-check this), and make your pitches personal by referencing previous writing that you’ve liked or stories that are similar to what you’re pitching. Journalists will notice the effort that you’ve made with your research and are more likely to read your pitch when they know it’s specifically addressed to them, and not 400 other people. 

Making your headlines catchy

If click-bait culture has taught us anything, it’s the power of a good headline. There’s no point in having a strong, incredible pitch if the headline is so boring that no one wants to read it. Make your headline relevant to each publication that you pitch to, as well as short, catchy and intriguing. 

Getting straight to the point 

Even if your client has saved children from burning buildings, if it’s not relevant to your pitch and the angle, it doesn’t need to be included. It’s easy to get caught up in a person’s backstory and everything they’ve been through, but journalists want the catchy, newsworthy hooks that are relevant to what you’re pitching. Write with a ‘need-to-know basis’ in mind and you’re far more likely to land coverage! 

Start turning these practices into habits and before you know it, you’ll be securing more media coverage than ever before. 

If you want more information on how PR and journalists work together, or to see how we could pitch newsworthy stories for your business, please reach out to Agent99 or contact me on

By Agent Emma