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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

5 Tips for Pitching to the Media

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Woman is standing and holding two microphones and writing on a notepad

Why should nutrition professionals pitch story ideas and messages to the media?

In a nutshell: to expand our reach and influence by serving as a source of valuable information and ultimately safeguarding the public.

First, if we as nutrition professionals do not pitch to the media, our messages will be severely limited in reach. The public needs our messages, which are accurate, up-to-date, and designed to benefit various audiences with relevant, practical, and actionable information. As Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, put it, “Three minutes in front of the camera is worth more than three years behind the desk.”

Additionally, with the popularity of food and nutrition information in the media, if experts in the field are not available for providing content, the media may turn to less qualified people, including celebrities, who may happily step up to the microphone. These people are more likely to be a possible source of misinformation that could potentially do great harm.

Getting a story published or broadcast via mass media can amplify a message and expand the nutrition professional’s reach to a significantly greater audience. Nutrition communicators who successfully pitch their story ideas can effectively serve a wider audience and become a much-needed resource to the media for nutrition information.

Put these five tips to become a reliable media resource into practice! You can download tip sheet #40 for free.

5 Tips for Pitching to the Media

Tip #1: Choose the right channels

Pitching a story to the media begins with determining the target audience for your message. Investigate the media channels this audience uses to gain information about your topic and select the ones that are most likely to publish or broadcast your story. Look for similar stories targeting your audience on these channels and determine whether your story will be a good fit.

Tip #2: Pitch to the right person

Publishers and editors receive dozens if not hundreds of pitches a day. Getting your story idea into the right hands greatly improves its chances of being considered. Research the staff directory to select the appropriate decision-maker for stories about your topic and for your audience. Address them professionally. Spell their name correctly. Demonstrate attention to accuracy.

Tip #3: Target your topic

A successful story pitch hooks the reader with a compelling opening that clearly describes the topic of the story. The topic must be of current interest to the target audience and provide information that is up-to-date and immediately useful. Answer the question, “Why does our audience need to know this?” Cause them to say, “This is a great story idea for our audience!”

Tip #4: Support your story

A message is strengthened when it is supported with evidence, illustrations, and examples. Include a variety of ways the story can be presented that indicate flexibility in approach, creativity, and depth. Sharing first-person anecdotes alongside research data make the story relatable. Demonstrate your understanding of the topic and its relevance to the target audience.

Tip #5: Resolve to be reliable

If your pitch is accepted, do the work well. Over-deliver. Don’t just meet deadlines, be early. Respond to requests for revisions. Keep track of all media contacts and follow up in a timely way. When your work makes their job easier and draws rave reviews from their audience, you will be on their shortlist of reliable experts to call first. Resolve to become a reliable resource.

When nutrition professionals are willing to step up to the microphone or sit down at the keyboard and become a reliable media resource, everyone benefits. It begins with perfecting our pitch!

If you are looking to build your media skills, Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide has an entire section of the book devoted to this important area. You will find a handy media contact log and lists of helpful resources along with media best practices and practical strategies. Check it out! Or this post for tips on successful media interviews.

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” ~ Wyatt Earp

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