How to pitch to the AFR

For many of First Degree PR’s corporate clients, being published in the AFR is the holy grail. Understandably so – it’s definitely where you want to be seen if you have a business-focused story to sell. But pitching to a publication that reaches over 1.46 million people can be daunting, so we thought we’d let you in on what we’ve learnt along the way.

Take to Twitter. This is a small and easy step that gets you in the right direction by using social media to build your professional network. In addition to following the AFR, also follow the journalists as they tend to be an active bunch on Twitter. It acts as a mini outlet of their thoughts and opinions – think of it as a peek into their mind. This is great to get an idea of what interests the journalist(s) that you plan to pitch to and also for additional contact information. Better yet, if they follow you back then your tweets will appear on their radar.

Know your subject area. The AFR covers a range of topics and so there are journalists dedicated to specific subject areas. It would be pointless pitching your technology-focused article to the politics section (unless there is a clear connection between the two). Does your article fall into real estate, personal finance or lifestyle? By finding the right area for your article, you’ll increase the chance of it getting accepted. It is also worthwhile to form a relationship with the appropriate journalist because you’ll likely have material of interest to them in the future, making your job easier moving forward.

Provide unique content. Find what makes your article special to help it stand out from the crowd. If what you’re saying can easily be reported on by others in a similar way, it’ll blend into the endless pile of submissions for the editor to review. Make your pitch engaging by including quotes by experts in your topic, impressive statistics or any other information that the AFR might not know or can’t obtain without you. Exclusive arrangements work well too as the publication will want to take advantage of having particular news before any of their competitors.

Pick your time. Like they say, timing is everything. If you were to pitch too early, there is the risk that the editor won’t remember your piece or keep it on file for when the appropriate time arises at a later date. Or worse still, if you were too send it too late, it’s old news so it’s already been covered and your chances are reduced to zero (you’re better off finding the next best opportunity). Our tip is to know the editorial calendar and ask your target journalists regularly what they are working on, so you know in advance which week/month fits your article best so it gets pitched and published at the perfect time.

Draft an edgy opinion piece. The op-ed pages are there for the taking, you just need to write bold enough content that will get the op-ed editor’s attention. Don’t sit on the fence. State your position with confidence in the opening paragraph and build on it with proof points that can sway readers convincingly. And most of all don’t waffle – omit needless words, as the timeless Strunk & White advise.

Now you’re ready to get pitching. Good luck!