In February, Buchanan hosted a panel with Women in Mining UK, The Good Pitch: The Dos and Don’ts With Mining Media, to discuss how corporates can work with the financial and trade media in a way that works, including what is the best way to approach the media when you have a positive story or when there’s been some negative developments.
Guests included Neil Hume (Natural Resources Editor at the Financial Times), Carly Leonida (Owner and Author at The Intelligent Miner and European Editor at Mining Media International) and Kirsty Hickey (Business Producer at Ian King Live – Sky News). Ariadna Peretz ( Director at Buchanan and Head of Communications at WIM UK) moderated.
Below we’ve included some highlights but the one big takeaway was “it’s all about the narrative.” That means media relations departments have to work harder and smarter when pitching their corporate stories. No longer is it enough to have solid results in a bear market or a “killer” dividend policy. What journalists care about is the “so what” factor. Therefore the main question to answer before pitching to journalist is “Why is my company’s story interesting to the journalist’s readers?” Craft the narrative before you pick up the phone and when you have the journalist on the line, make it apparent why your news is important and why their readers would care.
Getting the basics right
Journalists are short on time therefore you need to cut to the chase and make sure your story is relevant to their publication. Do your research on what your target publication covers and make it obvious from the outset what you are pitching and why it is relevant to their readers. If it doesn’t seem relevant on the face of it, take the time to explain why it is because if it’s not immediately apparent, it will get ignored. If you think the story isn’t relevant to the publication, don’t get in touch as that is counterproductive.
Unsolicited emails don’t work because there are too many emails and too little time in the day of a journalist. To stand out, play the long game. Try to build relationships beforehand so that when you have a story, they know who you are and are more likely to want to work with you. It also puts you top of mind when journalists are looking for insight on a particular topic.
If you are ignored, don’t be discouraged. Kirsty says she often comes back to previous pitches to help her with programming.
The energy transition is the biggest topic right now but it’s not the only thing journalists are writing on. Carly writes a lot about responsible sourcing and all things tech. At the Financial Times, Neil is seeing a lot of interest in battery materials, lithium and giga factories.
Interestingly, the more popular the topic, the more selective journalists are about the stories they cover. For example, the bar is very high for ‘Net Zero’ stories because most companies are making pledges these days and there is a lot of ‘greenwashing’.
When it comes to submitting an op-ed, it’s important to include who you are and why you are qualified to speak on a particular topic. The op-ed should be in good form by the time it is emailed to the publication. If it takes the editor more than an hour to edit, it will be ignored. At the Financial Times, contrarian views are appreciated and a news hook is not always necessary.
Not all publications have an editorial calendar but if they do, it is followed religiously because it helps with securing advertising. If you’d like to pitch a story to an online publication using its editorial calendar, get in touch four to six weeks before deadline.
There are stories we want splashed all over the place and then others we wish never happened. The consensus with our speakers was to own up to the news and speak on the topic.
When there is a negative news story, Sky News will always ask the company for a statement. At the FT, the requirement is to have comments double sourced and companies will be given plenty of time to reply to the journalist’s questions. Neil’s preference is to speak to the CEO on the record to find out what’s going on but often companies don’t oblige. At Buchanan we believe if you aren’t telling your story, someone else will, therefore it’s important to speak to the media.
You can watch the full video here. Watch until the end to find out what are our guests’ pet peeves – some are pretty bad and definitely not something you want to be guilty of!
Have any questions or comments? Get in touch with Ariadna at [email protected].