How do I include third-party substantiation in my pitches?

The most compelling stories contain multiple ingredients of newsworthiness, often as evidence of an authoritative third party. Here's how to add weight to your pitch.

When we kick off a PR program with a new client or media train an executive, we often review the necessary ingredients for a newsworthy announcement or pitch: timeliness, proximity, impact/consequence, novelty/rarity, conflict, human interest and prominence. Few stories have all of these qualities, but most good ones have at least two or three.

So how do you prove that your pitch holds water? The key is to demonstrate its relevance by weaving in third-party substantiation.

Where to find reputable stats:

  • Analysts: Most tech sectors are studied by industry analysts, such as those from Gartner and Forrester. Although the full reports are locked behind a paywall, it’s typically simple to pull relevant stats from media coverage about those reports.
  • Research and consulting firms: The Big Four—Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY—regularly release studies that media and customers alike tend to consider substantive and of high quality.
  • Media: Esteemed publications, such as tier-one business outlets, can be good sources for citing research, as they have high standards for coverage and are seen as authoritative.
  • Government research: Research by any relevant government entity can prove as excellent third-party substantiation for your pitch, especially since the media regularly include this information in their articles anyway. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a good one to reference, as it applies to a wide swath of industries. Beware of dated reporting, though, as some governmental departments don’t always release reports on a regular cadence.


  • Look for research from the past year – two years max. Of course, this timeframe is relative to the topic. For instance, a reference to politics or the economy a year ago may feel dated now.
  • Don’t pull a stat from your client’s competitor – you’re sure to tick off your client by giving the competitor free press.
  • Likewise, if you choose to reference a stat from a media publication, make sure that it’s not a competitor of the other publications you’re pitching. They surely don’t want to devote ink to those they are battling on a daily basis for readership and advertising dollars.

Remember that telling someone you are great is sales. Crafting a story and anchoring it with context such as timeliness and impact can make all the difference in capturing that newsworthy factor.