How to pitch in to new titles

The launch of new media titles is high on the mind of PR and comms professionals this week as Trinity Mirror debuted its national newspaper The New Day with a £5m advertising push. Three comms experts tell Gorkana which key PR rules remain important when pitching to journalists working on launches and new titles.

The New Day is just one of many recent media launches. Earlier in the year, there was also the launch of Dennis’ free health and fitness title COACH and, in December, the Progressive Media group relaunched Spear’s – a luxury lifestyle magazine that focuses on wealth management.

But, whether there’s a launch, or a relaunch and redesign of an established title, such as Olive and Time Out which both announced changes earlier in the week, our comms experts agree that PRs must use such opportunities to provide relevant content, network with journalists and make the most of the attention, profile and buzz generated by a title’s launch.

Prioritise relevant content and ideas

Niki Wheeler, director at Launch PR, believes in sticking to core PR principles when approaching a new title. She said: “Regardless of whether a title has been around for over 100 years, or just a few working days, our view is that success always relies upon the strength of the content you are pitching and its relevance to a publication’s audience and agenda.

“The news agenda, size of the publication – whether it has chunky business and features sections or supplements – and the day or time of year you are pitching a story will dictate how hungry a journalist is for a story and the nature of opportunities available. These factors are often title-agnostic,” she added.

The case remains the same whether PRs pitch to a title for consumer or corporate audiences. Danny Cox, head of communications at investment service group Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “If the title is appropriate to our audience we will engage with the relevant editors and journalists as we do with any other title. It helps if you have compelling experts on a subject with great insight and unique research – everyone wants to talk to you then.”

It is about “who you know”

It’s a no-brainer that PRs should get to meet a new editorial team, but comms pros should be aware of the fact that they may already know a few of them, according to Wheeler. She said: “On Monday (29 February – launch day for The New Day), one of our account managers took the floor in our 15 minute ‘stand up’ to update the entire agency on the publication’s audience, editorial agenda and staffers who we might know from our work with the Mirror.

“Journalists move jobs frequently so if you know someone and you’ve worked on good stories together previously – they’ll take your call or respond to your note if your story is good,” she added.

Cox said timing is key: “There are always opportunities for good stories and the appetite is growing. The skill is to deliver these to the right audience. The biggest challenge in pitching any story is to find the right person to contact at the right time. Titles don’t always make it easy.”

Take advantage of the high level of attention launches attract

PRs will see positive results when securing a relevant story on a new launch, according to Frank PR’s founder, Andrew Bloch. He said: “The first edition of a new title benefits from high levels of attention from readers keen to check out what is on offer. It also generates a lot of PR in its own right as a result of other media analysing its content.

“This can provide a good opportunity for PR’s to generate disproportionate awareness if they can secure launch edition coverage for their clients.”

Bloch explained how sportswear brand Umbro benefited from a newspaper launch: “This is a strategy that Frank used to good effect on behalf of our client Umbro. We negotiated a deal with the Sun on Sunday to reveal the new England football kit exclusively with it in its launch edition.”

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