Why You Need 'Real People' to Make Your Media Pitch Stand Out

Volunteers can often be great spokespeople for nonprofits that are looking to tell their stories in the media. (Creative Commons photo courtesy of DC Central Kitchen).

Volunteers can often be great spokespeople for nonprofits that are looking to tell their stories in the media. (Creative Commons photo courtesy of DC Central Kitchen).

It's not what you're pitching. It's who you're pitching.

You face an uphill battle when you pitch stories to the media.

Today's reporters get bombarded by a constant array of ideas and releases from organizations that are competing for their limited attention and time. Many of these pitches are legitimately interesting -- but these reporters only have the time and space to cover a fraction of those stories.

However, there's an ingredient that can help give your pitch an edge: real people.

While it's tempting -- and easy -- to position your top executive or spokesperson as the ultimate voice in your pitch or news release, journalists know that the best stories are told not by figureheads, but by the people who most easily identify with their readers or viewers.

After all, most people in their audience don't work in a corner office. 

Audiences can, however, quickly see themselves in a story about someone who could easily be their next-door neighbor or a classmate of one of their children.

And here's the thing -- reporters often struggle to find these real voices when they're gathering information for stories.

It's not hard for a reporter to pick up the phone and talk to a spokesperson or executive.

But it's often difficult to quickly find people who are willing to talk about their struggle to make ends meet or why they are giving less money to charity this year.

If you can solve that problem for them in advance and identify a real person or two who is willing and able to be interviewed in your pitch, you dramatically increase your odds of getting your story covered.

As a result, before you send an email to a journalist or draft a press release, take a little extra time beforehand to see if you can find a person beyond an executive or spokesperson who is willing to be interviewed for the story you're trying to pitch.

This is true whether you're working with a nonprofit, a company, or even a government agency.

I recently offered advice on how to identify real sources at nonprofits for Nonprofit Marketing GuideCheck it out if you're looking for more ideas.