How to do an effective media outreach strategy (with template & examples)

How to do an effective media outreach strategy (with template & examples)

Get coverage like the champion that you are

Successfully garnering media coverage is simple in theory but difficult in practice. It requires a lot of work, effort, and energy, which is why so many people end up shortcutting the process (or, at least, trying to) by buying media lists or mass-spamming random media contacts. These shortcuts have created what we have now: lazy, generic pitches spamming overworked publications and journalists who now have to use their already-limited time weeding through crap that has nothing to do with their audience.

We think this should stop. And for this to stop, pitches have to get strategic.

We've broken down the strategy into four fundamental steps, and we'll walk you through how to create a badass, effective media outreach strategy that will help your brand get superb coverage. This is not a shortcut or way to "hack" the system, because hacks and BS growth tactics are just ways to bypass doing strategy the right way, and that kind of shortcutting got us into this problem in the first place.

These are our best recommendations for creating an effective, evergreen outreach technique to help you do the most important thing: build quality relationships with the media.

The four-step process to a great media outreach strategy:

  1. Have a killer contact management system
  2. Do your research
  3. Reach out like a human being
  4. Be ready for follow-up

Let's dive into how to implement this strategy! 🤿

Why media outreach often sucks

As mentioned earlier, the concept of getting media coverage should not be difficult. You, as a brand or individual, have a story to tell. Reporters and journalists want to tell stories. It seems like a match made in heaven! So, if the recipe for success is there, why is media outlet reach often so difficult? Here are the top reasons media outreach often doesn't land:

1. Your story isn't as interesting as you think it is

We recently asked 200 journalists and comms people what the biggest pitching mistakes tend to be, and one of the biggest mistakes consistently mentioned is not providing value. Thinking of earned media as just free and credible marketing opportunities for your brand is a really good way to pitch a really boring story. Maybe your company or brand doesn't think it's boring, but will the average person?

Say, for example, that you're into table tennis. Like, really into it. You have a special table tennis racket. You watch hours of content. You spend evenings each week dedicated to honing your table tennis craft. Table tennis is not just your hobby, but your passion. You. Love. Table Tennis.

Does your endless love for the hobby make it interesting for others? Maybe.

But no. Absolutely not. You specifically caring about table tennis does not make it a compelling story to anyone else. Wanting to get featured in a publication for your table tennis prowess will be a hard sell because it just isn't that interesting.


This can happen with brands, too. You get so caught up in the ecosystem of your brand that you forget that the average person doesn't care about whatever it is that you do. This is why it's important to think like a journalist and turn your news into a story that other people will actually give a flying crap about.

2. Your story is interesting, but you're telling the wrong people

Shockingly, some people are riveted by table tennis. They treat it like a real sport and give it the same fervor and attention as something interesting. These people would be the perfect audience for your table tennis story. Should you be featured in Forbes? No, of course not. Never. But Table Tennis Weekly? Absolutely!

This is where the research part of our strategy comes in. Finding the right journalist and media outlets to pitch to will make or break a good strategy.

3. You're asking the right people in the wrong way

How you pitch is almost as important as who you pitch. Making your story captivating is crucial to getting that sweet media coverage. Even if your brand doesn't necessarily have a universal appeal, you can frame it as a compelling human interest piece with the right razzle-dazzle.

How to create an effective media outreach strategy

So, now we know how to do everything the wrong way. But what about doing media outreach the right way?

Step 1. Have a killer contact management system

You can start the harrowing media outreach process without a contact management system, but you'll really be doing yourself a disservice. Good media outreach is about building relationships. Lacking a cohesive system means you are more likely to spam, send double emails, mix up your contacts, or otherwise make goober mistakes.

This is one of the reasons we have a contact manager built into Prezly. Sure, our users could just manually copy and paste their emails from some gross Excel sheet every time, but we know that a good, robust contact manager is essential to a non-sucky media strategy.

It's a real "measure twice, cut once" situation: doing some legwork and curating your perfect media contact list will save you time, energy, effort, and lost sleep wondering why some random journo who no longer works at Wired isn't messaging you back about your table tennis story.

Don't let the lack of contacts in this image fool you. I have friends.
Don't let the lack of contacts in this image fool you. I have friends.

Bonus points for following your media contacts on social and engaging with their content. It's much easier to send a pitch email when they've seen your name around. Just don't do that weird thing where you go back through their Instagram and accidentally "heart" their picture from 2009. That would be a memorable (but horribly awkward) pitch email to send.

Learn everything you need to know about compiling and managing a media list.

Step 2. Do your research

Alright, now, the fun part: social media stalking. Just kidding, don't do that!

Start creating a list in your contact management system of journos whose niche aligns with yours. They could be folks you've collaborated with previously or simply journalists who have audiences you want to reach. If you think they can help your brand get awareness, get them in that contact management system.

Most good contact management systems will have a way to leave notes, and in this note section, you can include things like articles they've written that you've enjoyed or any pitch ideas that pop up. Another good thing to include is how they want to be contacted according to their social media profiles and any strong preferences or dislikes they have regarding pitching.

Read more about the fine art of crafting a quality media list:

Step 3. Reach out like a human being

This is the part that many people hate. So buckle in.

In the study we referenced earlier about the biggest pitching mistakes, 21% of participants indicated that mass, generic pitching was a scourge on the industry. Remember, journalists get hundreds and hundreds of pitches every week, and the majority of them are because someone copied and pasted their email from some stupid media list or another.

To differentiate yourself, you have to take the time to make personalized pitches. It would be better to send 15 to 20 highly individualized, well-researched, specific pitches to carefully selected journalists than it would be to BCC 1,000 random reporters to a blah pitch.

There's a delicate balance between "reaching out like a human, and talking in plain, non-jargon language to connect with another human" and "attempting to stalk and manipulate someone by infusing weirdly personal information into a cold-contact email." However, I trust you can navigate the subtle nuance without being a weirdo.

We've written several guides on "how to write non-sucktastic email pitches" if you're interested in learning more:

Step 4. Be ready for follow-up

It sounds like your work is done, but it's only beginning. Now that you've enacted your strategy, you just need to wait for that sweet, sweet media coverage to roll in. But really, this is where the work starts. If a journalist happens to have the perfect publication and story for your brand, you have got to be ready to go when they're ready.

Did you promise an interview with the CEO? Make sure her calendar is clear. Did you say you'd get quotes, pictures, or other deliverables? They better be locked-and-loaded. Nothing will damage your credibility with a journalist quite like pitching with the promise of having certain assets available, only to deliver the bad news after they've already brought the idea to their editors. It makes everyone look bad.

Effective media outreach template

The annoying part of a good media outreach strategy is the fact that you shouldn't really be relying on a template. Ideally, you will individualize your pitch so much that a template is rendered essentially useless to the process. What works for one journalist will not work at all for another, which is why we spent so much time researching.

That's not to say we can't identify some of the key features of a good pitch email:

  1. A great headline - Short, snappy, keyworded. They may not need your pitch now, but many journalists archive their pitches and search for them when needed, so keywords are a must.
  2. A very short pitch - If your pitch is long, you're going to lose them. So keep it short, David Foster Wallace.
  3. All the assets - Many stories will require some kind of digital asset: high-quality images, sound bytes, or a professional headshot. Sending these straight into the email can be annoying, even when the large file sizes don't get your correspondence immediately chucked into the spam folder. We suggest a link to a press kit.
  4. A sign-off with the important bits - Let them know how to contact you along with your name and credentials. Your industry authority is important. If you pitch authoritatively about a topic, but your credentials have absolutely nothing to do with that topic, you may lose coverage.

Media outreach examples

Alrighty, I'd like to introduce you to two separate email pitches loosely based on actual pitches we've received.

Pitch email #1:

Subject line: You don't want to be friends? :(

Hi Kaitlin,

This is my 16th email to you, and I haven't heard back. Did you get my emails, or do you not like me anymore?

Anyway, Katie, I'd like you to cover my story. Since you are in Communications & Media/Digital Marketing, I think you would be perfect for featuring my client on your website or blog. They are a vacuum store, so it's perfect.

Do you have time today to discuss what they would like featured? Here's a link to my schedule, pencil yourself in, and I'll fill you in on what they want. Now would be ideal, but I'll settle for later this afternoon if you're busy.

Thanks Keightlynn,


Pitch email #2:

Subject line: A heartwarming gardening story for your readership

Hi [insert correctly spelled name],

I've come across your articles a number of times and wanted to reach out. My name is [insert your correctly spelled name]. I'm the outreach coordinator for Seeds of Change, a non-profit aimed at sustainability and education.

We recently donated $15,000 to the Sunset Elementary School so they could start a community garden. Because of your work doing positive human interest stories as well as environmental pieces in our region, we thought this might be a great fit.

Here is a link to our newsroom, which includes the CSR press release as well as plenty of high-quality images and quotes from our CEO.

Thanks for your time! Please let me know if you need any follow-up information.


[insert name]


So, what differentiates these two? Pitch #1 is all about the writer. It's vague, requires follow-up to even understand what the pitch is about, misspells the recipient's name, and overall has a sassy and unpleasant tone.

Pitch #2 is well-researched, includes assets, has a targeted tone, and is written like a normal human is behind the screen. The emphasis isn't on the brand or their laudable CSR initiatives (though that is mentioned and important). The pitch makes it clear that the piece is environmental and about humans being bros.


Now that we've discussed creating a stellar media outreach strategy, you're ready to crush it.

If you'd like to try out Prezly and see how our robust CMS, pitching features, and press kits can help you through this laborious media outreach process, why not try a free 14-day trial?

Looking for great all-in-one PR software? Start your 14-day free trial of Prezly now.
Katelynn Sortino

Katelynn Sortino

Storyteller, Prezly


Published July 2022

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