Feature: Pitching a story - have I got a story for you

Poor pitching is the bane of a journalist's life, so how can PR professionals get it right? Alex Blyth hears tips from both sides.

Pitching: divides media and PR (Getty)
Pitching: divides media and PR (Getty)

There are few topics that divide the media and PR worlds quite as virulently as pitching. Ask most junior PR staff and they will tell you it is the worst part of the job; ask most journalists and they will tell you how frustrated they get by the sheer volume of ill-considered, sloppily delivered pitches they receive on a daily basis.

In recent years, a growing number of journalists and bloggers have begun publicly naming and shaming the PR professionals who have committed one of a seemingly endless list of possible misdemeanours.

All journalists can tell stories of their worst pitch. Radio station Passion for the Planet's news director Chantal Cooke says: 'Just this week someone suggested a shamanic healing on air. Aside from the fact it would be against broadcasting guidelines, it doesn't fit with our style. The PRO simply had no idea what we do.'

Likewise, PROs have their stories too. Racing Enterprises's senior manager, PR and promotions, Amy Sherman, remembers 'pitching face-to-face to a well-known editor who ordered me to relay ideas, barking no or yes at those she liked. The pitch was successful, just terrifying'.

It is worth bearing in mind that journalists want PR professionals to succeed. As Andrew Hill, the FT's associate editor and management editor, puts it: 'I would rather receive a pitch than miss an idea.'

So, what makes a good pitch? Here, seven people from the worlds of journalism and PR share their experiences of pitching and their ideas on how to get it right.

Journalists' view

PR professionals' view

Top tips on pitching success

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