Pitch perfect – how to reach journalists in a new media environment

Communications, Corporate Affairs, Content, Digital Media, Engagement

Declan Evans 25 Jan 2023
5 mins

With ever-shrinking newsrooms and the emergence of alternative platforms, getting your media pitch picked up and published will be a challenge in 2023.

The pandemic accelerated staff reduction in newsrooms across the country, making media pitching to traditional outlets as cutthroat as ever.

The downsizing of traditional newsrooms has been as swift as it has been extensive. The Public Interest Journalism Initiative reports that more than 290 Australian newsrooms have shrunk since 2019.

Regional centres have been majorly impacted by these changes. More than 100 regional and community newspapers have stopped printing since the start of 2020. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance says this was on top of the 106 that ceased in the previous decade.

There are fewer specialist journalists, with a jack-of-all-trades approach being adopted by the few reporters left. With more areas to cover, email inboxes are often overflowing, and cutting through can be difficult.

Costs remain a driving force in the way traditional media outlets approach news.


Earlier this year, prominent Western Australian journalist Kate Ferguson told her Twitter followers that major news organisations wouldn’t pay for her to travel to northern WA to cover the floods.

If there’s not enough money to cover a major natural disaster, what does that mean for the smaller news stories?

It might sound all doom and gloom, but hope is not lost. With the right story, expert advice, a fresh approach and an open mind, your voice can be heard across traditional and emerging media platforms.

The journo strikes back

Sick of wasting valuable time sorting through PR pitches that weren’t a great fit, senior Adweek reporter Olivia Morley decided to create a document spelling out what makes a story right for her.

Ms Morley’s extremely detailed and example-rich seven page guide clearly sets out what she does and does not cover, and includes a number of FAQs – including a regular request from clients:

“Can I read your article before you publish?”

No, not ever.

Olivia’s LinkedIn post received widespread kudos for the time invested in putting it together, with one commenter noting her refreshing positive approach which brings media relations back to media relationships, “rather than all of us blasting information and questions at each other.”

Other journalists are joining her, looking to receive pitches that resonate with them while streamlining their inboxes. The days of blasting out information and hoping it will land somewhere are long gone.

Fewer targets to hit

Here in WA, the Community Newspaper Group closed five of its 17 newspapers in 2018, saying it was no longer sustainable to keep publishing. In 2019, Seven West Media bought its joint venture partner News Corp’s share of Community News and moved it to Seven West Media’s WA headquarters.

In the same year, The West Australian implemented a seven-day newsroom at Seven West Media’s Newspaper House, with Senior Editor Anthony DeCeglie saying:

“In my mind, there is no longer a delineation of ‘The West staff’ or ‘Sunday Times staff’. The Sunday product is another day of the week for our combined newsroom — as important as the Monday paper or the Thursday paper or the Saturday paper.”

Then in 2021, Seven West Media retired the Community Newspaper Group brand and relaunched the products as free suburban PerthNow newspapers, split into 10 localised editions stretching from Yanchep to Coogee.

With fewer outlets reporting the news, reaching news targets can be difficult. Having the right story and right advice is as important as ever.

It’s not all doom and gloom

Our team of former journalists knows how newsrooms once worked, currently work, and will continue to work. With the right tools and networks to produce the perfect pitch, Purple speaks fluent journalist.

Where we don’t have an existing relationship with a journalist or publication, we know how to do the research required to identify the best options to place a story, rather than simply blast information at a number of targets.

Our database extends past our networks, with time and effort put into perfecting a media list for each release we put out on behalf of our clients.

Not long ago, news was communicated largely by the pillars of newspapers, radio and television, complemented by magazines and websites.

These days social media platforms dominate the news and information landscape, there’s a 24-hour news cycle powered by always-on news brands, and the lines between newspapers, radio and television are blurring.

The media landscape has never been more complex and getting the right strategic communications advice is critical.

Keep an eye out for…

  1. Major change in direction

We will continue to see fewer business stories and more entertainment news, satisfying the public’s insatiable desire for human interest stories. Clickbait titles might frustrate some, but they work, and are much more successful when written about a ‘celebrity’. News is still a business, with revenue coming through online advertising dollars – facilitated by clicks.

The days of lengthy thought leadership pieces are dwindling, with many venturing into podcasts to emphasise their industry or business knowledge. Podcasts are also humanising many C-suite executives, who are more relatable when they’re sitting comfortably answering soft ball questions.

  1. The death of the Twitter journo

With the status of Twitter currently in limbo, 2023 is likely to move us away from ‘Twitter journalism’. Thanks to a mass exodus from the platform and usability issues, journalists may once again be forced to rely on sources and networks.

On top of this, new Twitter CEO Elon Musk recently banned several journalists on the platform. This blatant censorship of the free press brings into question the future of media professionals on the platform, as well as Musk’s promise to restore free speech on Twitter with his $44 billion purchase.

It will be interesting to see how journalists react, and whether we find a new home for breaking news on social media.

  1. Continued consolidation

It’s not going to get any easier to find or retain a job as a journalist. Publications will move further towards operating year-round with a skeleton staff. Developing strong relationships with the chosen few will be important as they get more and more control over the mainstream media landscape.

  1. Less becoming more

We expect to see organisations and individuals continue to leverage smaller online platforms to tell their story. These platforms allow businesses and brands to tell their stories to better targeted audiences – often allowing greater input into the final product.

Content hubs showcase expert commentary from the brightest minds in industry offering timely and insightful conversations. These platforms cultivate a new generation of thought leaders who may feel more comfortable within their organisation’s digital infrastructure than on the front page.

With digital literacy improving year-on-year, having your own platform to get your news out there is becoming more prevalent, as content hubs become a must-do for many organisations.

Food for thought

Don’t forget the basics – or what our colleague Peter Klinger refers to as knowing the drill.

The overriding questions should always be: What is your story? Why is it a story? – and if it’s not – park it until you can answer these questions.

If you’ve got an abundance of stories to tell, maybe it’s time to consider telling them yourself. So, if you are interested in starting your content journey, get in contact with our Content Team and find out how we can give all your stories a home.



Declan Evans More from author

Declan is a Senior Consultant in our Corporate Affairs team, working with a range of clients in the manufacturing, technology and property sectors.

With a degree in Mass Communications from Curtin University, Declan brings a passion for writing and communicating through a wide variety of mediums, with a keen interest in writing strategic communications within a crisis space.

Declan has experience in marketing and sales, and after spending time living overseas, found a love for collaborating with a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds.

Out of the office, Declan spends his spare time playing and watching a variety of sports, searching high and low for new music, and exploring the globe.

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