By Samantha Jacobson, Founder of TenXPR
It seems that we’ve been slapped with negative news story after negative news story since March 2020, from the pandemic, to an increase in gun violence, to the war in Ukraine, just to name a few. In fact, during 2020 – perhaps the most negative year of all – studies show that nearly 90% of COVID coverage alone was negative.
My point? When the news is this negative, it has a devastating impact on our mental health. But the good news is, we have the abilty to limit our screen time and avoid “doomscrolling” to escape the negativity.
Members of the media, on the other hand, do not. In order to successfully and accurately deliver the news, journalists, reporters and producers are required to fully immerse themselves in all the good and bad. And unlike us, they can’t escape it. That’s why, if the news cycle happens to be particularly negative (which seems to be the constant state of the news lately), I suggest waiting before pitching yourself.
If you’re still weighing whether or not it’s the right time to pitch yourself, here are 4 tips to consider before clicking “send” on your pitch email:
Take stock of the negative news stories out there right now.
As much as we wish this weren’t the case, negative news stories are all around us. Think about who you are pitching, whether an international, national, or local producer or talent booker, and do some research to see what is happening in their world, whether on an international, national, or local scale.
It’s also important to look into which beat, or niche, the producer or talent booker covers. Depending on the beat, they might be especially ingrained in negative news at a particular time. For example, if they cover local weather, find out if any natural disasters are affecting the area. If they cover national politics, be aware of any significant updates on the war in Ukraine. If there is a negative news story affecting their beat, it’s best to wait before you pitch yourself.
Identify how recent the negative news is.
Once you do the research to see if there are any negative news stories affecting the producer or talent booker you want to pitch yourself to, it’s up to you to determine how recent they are. I would avoid pitching yourself the week a negative news story hits. Why? Because the producer or talent booker is likely fully consumed with the story and won’t have the time or attention to give to your pitch, and you lose your opportunity as a result. For example, the week that a school shooting occurs is not the right time to pitch yourself to a local producer who covers that area. Instead, wait another week or two.
Ask yourself: is your pitch topic compelling right now?
Timing isn’t the only factor to consider. Whether or not your topic is related and/or compelling for a producer or talent booker to cover right now matters just as much. For example, if your expertise is in international affairs, and you would’ve been able to help a producer’s audience understand the implications of the war in Ukraine, that would’ve been an appropriate reason to pitch yourself. But if your topic is about women in business, it would’ve made sense to let it wait.
Producers and talent bookers won’t even open your email when they see that your subject line is completely unrelated to the story they are working on. It’s worth everyone’s time and and energy for you to wait another week or two before reaching out.
Think about it: you wouldn’t ask any favors from a friend right after they experienced the loss of a family member or a traumatic event. The same goes for members of the media. Journalists, producers and talent bookers live, breathe and sleep the news, and when negative news hits, it takes a hit to their wellbeing, just as it does to ours.
When you are considering pitching yourself during a particularly negative news cycle, always lead with compassion – no matter what. That is the most important tip of all.