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Thought leadership, article, op-ed, by-line, ramblings – There are countless terms for a written article. They are one of the most useful tools in a media relation professional’s kit but actually getting a piece published can be surprisingly difficult. 

Here I highlight key elements one should consider when pitching a by-line, and even more importantly, the things to avoid.  

Picking the right home

Finding an appropriate home is the first step. If you send a consumer finance publication a pitch for a capital markets company you will likely be rejected or ignored. Even if you ‘sneak through’, the audience will still be of little value. Crafting a well thought out list of targets that are both suited to the company and take thought-leadership opportunities is vital.

Pitch material that relates to recent stories and articles – this increases the chance of a good response. Whether this is a piece in support of a specific story or a direct rebuttal to another opinion piece – any way your piece can be engaging to the editor and show that you have done your homework on the publication – the more likely a successful pitch will land.


Next comes the hardest and most important element, the pitch. Editors and content managers receive hundreds of these a week, so it is important to be captivating and engaging but also as succinct as possible. Who is it for? What is the argument? Does it fall in line with the publication’s submission guidelines?

A successful pitch answers all of the above. It should establish the piece's relevance and why it is important to the publication’s audience. It should say why someone qualified to comment on the topic you are pitching – x number of years in the financial markets, policy expert, sits on an advisory board. The author’s credentials should be as prominent as the topic presented.

No double dipping

Exclusivity is essential. Make this clear when pitching. Include it in the subject line, or at the very least have ‘exclusive’ high-up in your initial email. No publication wants recycled content!

Breaking exclusivity is a great way to permanently rupture an editorial relationship. It makes what is already a hard process next to impossible.Pitching targets one at a time and waiting until you’ve received a response will prevent potential issues. 

Next steps

So you’ve pitched. No response for 24, 48 and then 72 hours. Editors are incredibly busy people and are often frustrated with PRs. Who can blame them? Following up is important as it is likely that the pitch would’ve been lost in the swathe of pitches they receive.

Don’t be afraid of following up – the quicker you can receive an answer the faster you can move on. It can be challenging in this post-pandemic environment to get a response. Keep pushing. If you don't receive an answer after a couple tries, inform the publication you are moving on. If they still want the article, tell them to get in touch. 

The last thing you want is for your number one target to turn around after a couple of weeks and say ‘oh this is great we would love it’ for you to have already pitched to half a dozen other targets. Communicating clearly where you are in the process will stop issues from arising.

Securing a by-line is a difficult and delicate art. You won’t always get it right. You will get no’s and no responses. But the more you do it and the more tailored you make each one, the more likely one will land.

Louis Hogan is an account manager based in London