One could teach an entire college course on understanding the world of freelance journalism— and in fact, someone is. For the rest of us, our colleagues at FGH’s Health Media Insights newsletter shared some top tips for pitching freelance reporters:
- Read freelancers’ successful pitches. Public databases like The Open Notebook and Successful Pitches reveal that freelancers’ accepted pitches are often highly developed – they are able to clearly articulate the potential arc of their story and often include the names of experts they would interview. This means there’s a clear opportunity to help freelancers shape their pitches – for example, providing them with data that would be particularly intriguing to an editor and offering multiple sources can help them land their pitch.
- Study their go-to outlets. If you’re targeting a freelancer because they often write for a particular outlet, you have an advantage: Outlets publicly post their pitching guidelines, which can help give you a sense of the standards that reporter needs to meet. You can see a wide-ranging library of media outlets’ pitching guides here.
- Build in longer timelines. Because freelancers have to pitch editors after accepting your pitch, it can take longer for a story to go live. In practice, this means that freelancers might be better targets for evergreen trend stories, rather than timely news with a set release date.
Bonus Tip: If one of your top reporter contacts is leaving their long-time outlet to pursue freelancing or without a clear next destination – such as Leah Rosenbaum of Forbes or the Houston Chronicle’s Gwendolyn Wu – touch base before their old email deactivates to see if they have a preferred way to stay in touch moving forward.
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