News judgment has changed – have you?


You already know that media outlets are chasing web traffic above all else. And it’s not just the new kids like BuzzFeed and Business Insider.

When staffers at venerable titans like the New York Times or WSJ talk candidly, they admit they are under pressure to earn page views just like everyone else.

Has this knowledge changed how you pitch?

What was once taboo is becoming a new media relations tool – citing data to demonstrate that your proposed story will perform well online.

This doesn’t replace the need to concisely spell out the substance and merit of the news – that won’t ever change. But now savvy PR pros are getting ahead by supplementing their core stories with information that helps target journalists and bloggers predict audience reaction. Here are a couple approaches:

Tell how a piece of content is already performing

This comes intuitively when you’re pitching a video – it’s natural to say something like, “And it appears to be picking up steam on YouTube – 5K views yesterday, already up to 11K today . . .”

But you can also do the same with written content, whether it’s on your newsroom, your blog, or even a third-party site. Showing that people are interested in a topic can pique an influencer’s attention. Just be careful to make it clear that the momentum is still increasing. They won’t be interested if it’s obvious the content has already reached its viral peak.

Propose ways you can help promote their resulting content

Today’s online journalists – particularly those who are younger and/or work at digital-native sites – often value “partnering” with those of us who can help drive traffic to their resulting stories. I’ve even seen some of them reach out and ask PR shops to do so. So why not just offer in your original pitch? Something like:

“If this is something that interests you, we’d be happy to share your (story/video) with our 3,000 Facebook fans and our 4,500 email subscribers. In the past this has often pushed pieces onto the ‘most popular’ list for the day.”

The numbers only matter in proportion to the size of the outlet.  Your niche trade site or local TV station won’t need to see follower counts as high as would, say, USA Today, to get interested.

This principle in action at the top tier

This isn’t forecasting – this stuff is already working. I’ve seen pitches like these land coverage on, and a recurring column on And I’d like to help you get similar results with your pitches through my special offer below.

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This article was originally published on May 23, 2018.