Media pitch tips from a veteran-TV reporter
KGW’s Pat Dooris spoke at AM:PM PR’s Speakeasy about what to expect if you have a story to pitch. These were his tips.
Only Pitch What’s Current.
“I don’t care about something happening in August when it’s February,” Pat says. “I need to fill a news hole today and tomorrow. Much farther out and it better be really good.”
Be Available Now.
“If you pitch me and I bite, you’d better be ready to go in 30 minutes,” Pat warns. “I’m not kidding. You have a short shelf life. If I can’t lock you in with that time amount I’m moving on to the next potential source or story. I have no time to waste and no option for no story tonight.”
Offer Compelling Humans.
“Every story needs real people that are affected by the issue we’re talking about. Whether it’s sewers or acupuncture or taxes or a mission to Mars, we need real people that will talk with us for our story – and yes, that means on camera!”
Make the Humans Available!
“I once had someone pitch me a ‘C’ level story. But on this particular day we were short of story ideas so a ‘C’ looked like an ‘A.’ I called back quickly, but they didn’t have anyone…not ANYONE who would go on camera,” Pat shared. “Not only did we dump that story and move to the next – I was pissed and never took another pitch from that person.”
What Gets Through
- The number of people affected – Is it significant?
- New news – Is this the first we’ve heard about it?
- Stories with people willing to talk openly.
- Good visuals i.e. video, compelling photos, infographics.
- Compelling sounds.
- Media trained experts.
- The “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM) translation.
- Something that runs counter to prevailing conceptions.
- Something that reveals truth about ourselves.
- Stories that involve emotion.
- Stories that involve animals.
The 5 Biggest Influences.
- Number of people affected
- Sources available to go on camera
- Good talkers
About Pat Dooris
Pat Dooris has worked in TV News for 29 years. He’s interviewed more than 29,000 people and done at least 17,000 live shots. He’s won awards including two Northwest Emmys along with awards from the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and even a National UPI award. Yep, United Press International. He’s been reporting that long. Pat is a reporter at KGW TV and a media coach who trains people and companies on how to respond to the press. Rather than ducking the media, he believes people and companies should embrace the chance to tell their story in powerful ways. Find out more about his services at PatDoorisMedia.com
Editor’s Note: While Pat’s tips are focused on pitching TV media, much of his advice works well for pitching any kind of media. So be wise, think ahead, and put yourself in the reporter’s shoes.