One of the biggest pitfalls of being a publicist and marketing communications professional is not putting yourself in the shoes of editors. It’s easy to simply share a client’s announcement with media without thinking through what the real story behind it is, and hope that you’ll get a bite. As communications professionals, it’s our job to think one step ahead and be the champions of the message we’re sharing.
Recently I’ve been contributing to food news website, Chowhound. Now that I'm on the receiving end of all sorts of pitches and having spent time thinking on my own stories, I’ve gotten a crash course on what it’s like to really think editorially. That experience has helped me shape my frame of mind when I pitch editors, and I can honestly say a lot of what works best for pitching traditional media, works well for food & beverage editors as well.
Check out my latest piece on Chowhound, “New York's Chinatown Isn't What It Used to Be, But Is That Okay?” here.
And here are 5 tips on how to land your latest food story:
- Make your story idea clear from the very beginning!
It’s so easy to get hung up on incorporating every key message and minute detail into a pitch, that we either hide the story angle deep in our email or it gets lost and we forego it completely. The story idea should be able to be written in one sentence, and distinguishable from the very beginning of the pitch note.
- Think of the pitch the way you do a narrative.
Every good story has three main parts--the exposition, climax and resolution--and so should your pitch. Client announcements and launches become reality because of the people and work that made them, so dig in, and find the real story behind what you’re sharing with editors. For instance, a restaurant opening announcement can get easily lost in the shuffle, but it can be a lot more substantive when you share how that restaurant came to be, what trends exist that make it relevant now, and the culture of where the food is from.
- Do your research.
This is one of the most obvious tips, but also one of the most important. Do your research on both the outlet and the editor you’re pitching. The former, so that you don’t look silly pitching a story that’s already been covered, and the latter, so you’re up-to-date on what the editor is writing about. Doing a quick social media search can also help you to find out what the editor’s tastes are and what they’re interested in. If a food editor is posting a lot about Asian cuisine on their Instagram, they likely have an Asian cuisine story coming up, so get on their radar.
- Make it as easy as possible for the editor.
In my short time contributing, I’ve already received dozens of pitches where it was not immediately clear what the publicist wanted me to even cover. I’ve often received story ideas, without the full details to make that story even feasible. If your pitch is about a new snack flavor, root your pitch in how that flavor was chosen, the origin of the flavor itself and what other foods pair well with it.
And of course, don’t make it so that the editors have to keep asking for information and assets. Provide all of the information from the get-go and make the process as easy as possible for them.
- Use pictures and videos.
Being a food & beverage writer requires use of all the senses, so nothing is more boring than receiving a flat, text heavy pitch. Make your pitch more exciting by providing fun and vibrant pictures of the food or products that you’re sharing. This will help break up the text of the pitch and show that what you’re pitching is more than just a bunch of words in an email.
Marco Carreon has been working in PR for over 5 years, specializing in lifestyle, travel, food and technology brands.
Marco has built an extensive media network that has helped extend clients’ reach beyond traditional trade outlets, to lifestyle and general news media. He is an Account Supervisor on Mitchell’s Consumer Marketing team in NYC.