Media Pitching Best Practices: 41 PR Experts Reveal All
I have been saying for years that PR is the future of online marketing. This has mostly fallen on deaf ears, except with my clients who have reaped the benefits.
Many in the digital marketing industry are still living in the dark ages.
Why? PR link building is hard work.
It requires a well-structured plan — frankly, good luck outsourcing.
Public relations starts with finding and pitching to journalists. A misstep here and your efforts will be fruitless. Nail this step, and build powerful organic links that will stand the test of time.
In my opinion, the best link building strategy is rooted in digital public relations
How did I rank #1 for SEO Expert? PR link building.
Yes, your content is fantastic, it is intelligently written, and it is ultra-helpful.
Journalists must cite sources if they want their articles to be valid, so they are always on the prowl for experts to serve as critical sources. When you serve as an expert source for a journalist, you can often receive a link credit back to your website.
There are no better backlinks than those that come from high-authority news sites.
If you establish yourself as an authority, as I have with SEO, journalists may seek you out to serve as a source for a story they are working on.
But, journalists aren’t going to have the time to hunt down every source. Often, they depend on PR pitches.
For example, a journalist for The Chicago Tribune might be looking for experts for a story that involves the eye-health benefits of drinking carrot juice daily.
If you are an optometrist with a local optometry business, you would be a prime candidate to serve as a source for the story.
However, if you write a sloppy email to the Tribune’s writer, you are likely to get passed over. You lost out on a potential significant high-authority backlink or mention.
The purpose of this blog post is to teach you how to write media pitches that work, impresses, and are valued by journalists.
I have assembled the top Public relations experts to provide their best tips on pitching media, journalists, and writers.
1. Do your homework and Know which reporters to approach
Treat story-pitching as a sales process. Your story is your product, and the media is your potential customer.
Do the research to figure out which outlets and reporters would be interested in what you’re trying to sell them, and when you present your idea to them, know them enough to sell your story to them in a way that they’ll want to do something with it.
2. Connect with existing narratives
It’s always easier to join a conversation than start a new one. Don’t just know your reporters. Know your industry as well.
You have to be as well-read as possible, so you can fit your pitch in with emerging narratives and established talking points. See what opportunities exist to plug your pitch into pre-established discussions, and insert yourself as best you can into them.
3. Offer creative assets and more
Knowing how busy the media is on any given day, always offer ways to help them round out your story.
Do you have unique creative assets, like pictures or videos, you can give them access to? Can you connect them to a customer for a quote? Is there an opportunity for live action shots? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, make them available.
Before you send a pitch to an editor, make sure you’re answering these two questions. What is surprising about this story/news? How is this story/news relevant to the daily lives of the readers of this publication? You’re wasting your time if your pitch is all about your client/product, doesn’t answer these questions, and isn’t personalized to individual editors and publications.
2. The Press Release May Not Be Dead After All
A lot of modern PR pros will tell you the press release is dead. Maybe it is, perhaps it isn’t, but there’s no arguing the fact that press releases create a timeline of your organization’s history and indicate your momentum. However, when it comes to getting a reporter’s attention, sending them a press release is not the way to go. Instead, present a compelling, few sentences-long pitch that ties your company’s news or offering to a current news story. You’re much more likely to grab a journalist’s attention with a relevant news tie-in than a standard-issue release, no matter how groundbreaking your product or offering may be.
3. Think Like a Journalist
Some of the most successful PR professionals started as reporters. They understand the constant need for expert sources, and they position their executives as such. Publications are being inundated with thought leadership articles written by professional ghostwriters and positioned under executive bylines. While you may find success getting contributed articles placed, and these do have merit, don’t discount the value of also offering your executives as commentators and industry experts. Journalists are looking for these kinds of sources for every story they write.
It is not the reporter’s job to promote your company. The old school self-serving press release is ineffective. Think about the big picture, the industry and/or the community and how your company’s news plays a role in that realm.
For example, I often pitch Davenport University’s nursing program. I develop related story ideas surrounding economic impact in the communities we serve, the hands-on student experience, the impact of technology on education, etc. I cannot ask the media to do a story solely on the fact that we have a great program. That’s not a story. Instead, I put my reporter hat on and think about the stories that are within our program.
Next, brainstorm creative story angles to share your company’s stories and consider what kind of sources a reporter might need for an interview. Make sure those sources are available before sending a PR pitch! There’s nothing worse than a source taking off on vacation right after you submit the pitch!
Then, succinctly communicate the story via email to the reporter, taking into consideration the kinds of stories they like to tell based on previously published stories on their news site.
2. Timing is key.
Be aware of current events, as well as both local and national news. *When there is breaking news, such as a new royal baby or a local crisis, it may not be a good time to send a pitch.
You also should *be aware of what’s hot in pop culture* — and find ways to tie that information to your pitch. For example, the university I worked at previously had a religion course called From Revelation to ‘The Walking Dead.’ I pitched a story to the media about the course — which was about apocalyptic biblical texts — to media right before the season premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. After persistent pitching, it was picked up and ended up having a reach of more than 545 million.
3. Note the photo, video and/or audio resources you have available upon request as some newsrooms may not have a large enough staff to gather the resources themselves.
It also is important to note what kind of access you can provide to reporters. I have often worked with reporters to grant them access to classrooms, special events, laboratories and more.
For example, Davenport University has an incredible nursing lab with human patient simulators. As a media relations professional, I am always happy to work with a reporter to get them in a lab to see these simulators in action. I also help gather students who can speak about their experiences to help save reporters time.
1. I only send pitch emails Tuesday and Wednesday and make sure they arrive in the person’s inbox between 11 am and 2 pm.
I do this because Mondays are more about catching up on emails and your pitch can get overlooked. Fridays are fickle as many people leave the office early or are already checked out for the weekend. I choose those times because it’s after they’ve sat down and gotten settled and usually before or after they’ve gone to lunch.
2. My pitches are maximum 200 words. No one wants to read an essay. You want it to be short, catchy, and to the point.
To reiterate the above, I follow four rules. Short, Catchy, Story, Credible.
Short – 200 words max
Catchy – grabs the readers attention (memorable subject line and first sentence). Hook them.
Story – make sure there’s actually a story they can write, and you’re not just feeding them information where they’re going to say, Cool, but so what?
Credible – add some credibility whether that’s doing research and citing a reliable source or bringing in an expert.
1. The most important thing to do before you pitch is research.
I know, PR is supposed to be this glamorous industry filled with beautiful people that should be able to sell water to a well. But, there’s a ton of work done on the back end that is not sexy or fun that will increase your probability of quality coverage tenfold.
Conduct research to determine what questions your audience is asking (or even better, what they should be asking), and then use your understanding of the client to help answer the question, How does my client solve X problem for Y customer? And there’s your pitch.
2. Relationships with journalists are valuable.
Many people will say that maintaining good relationships with the press is a way to get good media coverage — and they are right. However, developing those relationships is hard work. It takes one good pitch to land an excellent piece of coverage. However, it takes one bad pitch to be written off, and many, many good pitches to earn the trust of just one reporter.
You’ll get pressure from bosses, clients, and colleagues to hound reporters until they respond. Maintain your integrity. Only send valuable, newsworthy, forward-thinking pitch ideas. Seriously, stick to your guns on this one. It will pay off in the long run.
3. Make sure to check all the boxes for the client.
Finally, it is important to understand what constitutes as good media coverage can be subjective — that is, if your client does not recognize the value in something, is it still good? They are the ones paying the bills, after all.
When you get a hit you are proud of, step back and ask yourself if the coverage aligns with your client’s business objectives, messaging and positioning. Is the overall sentiment positive? Are you reaching a target audience? If it checks all the boxes, present it to your client in a way that details its value. PR is widely misunderstood. Good coverage can offer a teachable moment for your client, but you have to be the one to recognize that opportunity and run with it.
1. An effective campaign has to tick a variety of boxes to perform well.
Not only is your communication key, but the campaign itself also needs to be able to help generate a hook and a headline you can feed in to get a journalists attention. Without a key piece of data or a unique proposition, such as an industry expert you’ve involved or a visual that allows people to engage in a topic instantly, you’ll struggle to compete with often hundreds of other emails journalists receive.
2. Pick the right story out for each journalist you outreach to is vital.
You need to do your research on each writer.
See what they often write about.
Look at the types of headlines they use.
Familiarize yourself with the language they use on social media.
All of this feeds into your pitch.
For example, if a journalist writes at a very professional publication like The Guardian on serious topics, make sure your language suits and gets to the point. Then adapt for the next journalist you think the story will suit and personalize your approach.
3. Build a relationship with the writers you want to work with.
In my experience, this has made a difference when a huge profile story or campaign has gone live, and we’ve needed coverage quickly. Without it, you’ll be playing catch-up every time you publish.
1. Make a third-party source available if possible.
Oftentimes, one of the first problems with a pitch is that it is overly promotional. If you make an outside source available for comment to a reporter, it automatically boosts your credibility and saves the reporter the hassle of having to fill in the missing pieces of your proposed story.
2. Check the comment pages of stories.
Targeting a reporter that you think is perfect for your client? Give the comments section of their articles a look. People comment about what they see wrong with the article, ways to advance the conversation or share what they’d like to see written about next. If you can pull that comment and share it with the reporter and provide a source, it’s very convincing and shows that you did your reading.
3. Work with the marketing team for data.
Is your client or company running any advertising on social media? If they are, you should reach out and sit with the person running those ads. The feedback will be able to give you critical information on the interests and demographics of your audiences.
It’s all about the headline; journalists need a reason to open your email- think about how many they receive each day and the process they will use to sift out the good ones. Keep journalists guessing with snappy headlines which include questions and tempt them to open the email and read your press release.
2. Reach out to personal contacts.
If you’ve built up personal relationships in the past, make use of them in the future. Good outreach and PR is all about relationship building. Remember, you need to both give and receive; don’t instantly expect to obtain coverage from a contact if you’ve done nothing to support that journalist in the past. Make sure you offer to share any coverage they give you on social media, which will act as an added incentive for them to cover your story.
3. Keep it short and snappy.
Journalists don’t have a lot of time when it comes to reading press releases and the content that introduces it. So, carefully craft a short opening paragraph detailing what you’re promoting and how you think it’s relevant to that specific person. Your content needs to stand out from the crowd, so the punchier, the better.
1. Use intriguing words in your subject line: Surprising New Data; Unusual Startup, Grandparents With A Side Hustle, etc. Make the reporter curious.
2. Before writing your pitch, imagine the ideal headline of the story you think the reporter is likely to write. Then be sure your pitch supports the headline with information, anecdotes, data or other insight or evidence.
3. Visit the press rooms of similar types of businesses, but not direct competitors, to find publications and reporters likely to cover your business.
If you’re launching a gig economy elder care company, for example, visit sites like Rover, UrbanSitter or BabyQuip to see who has written about them. You can mention in your pitch that you read the reporter’s story on Rover and thought her audience might want to learn how to earn extra money delivering food and personal care to the elderly.
4. Roundups are an easier pitch than a feature story.
Consider teaming up with similar types of businesses or organizations to create a broader perspective on a trend. If you are pitching a workshop to prepare women to campaign for local elected offices, for example, you might include a woman currently serving in office, a non-profit that helps women raise money for elections and an app that identifies all the elected offices in any community.
5. Customize your pitch to the media type and format.
A television pitch can include a brief description of what video footage you can provide, or what equipment or props you can bring to the studio. Broadcast pitches should include a reference to the spokesperson’s talent and broadcast experience. Producers often give the same consideration to the talent they are booking as they do to the quality of the story.
6. Conduct media training prior to your interview.
Write down the key messages you hope will be included in your press coverage and the questions you are likely to be asked, based on your pitch and the research a reporter might do. Practice answering questions using your key messages. Have someone rapidly fire questions at you and work on brief, strategic answers, with your best soundbite in the first sentence.
Natalie Athanasiadis Owner & Head of Growth, Ormi Media
1. Outline value and avoid over-promotion.
If you want a journalist to be interested in your pitch, it needs to drive value for the publication. Audience attention is their bread and butter so the more engaging, the better.
To do this well, you need to research the publication, and it’s audience so that you are pitching an irresistible story concept. Often people will try to do this by highlighting the brand’s value, that’s not the right approach. You want to sell the benefits to the publication. For example why this story would attract attention and interest from their target audience.
2. Avoid sending emails that are clearly a copy and paste.
Most journalists can spot a bulk email blast a mile away. This is a quick way to get your pitch deleted before it’s even fully read. Journalists don’t love generic pitches so you will want to avoid that, you want to personalize the email to the journalist, and this doesn’t mean just switching their names in and out. Take the time to craft a pitch that is tailored to that particular journalist and the publication they write for.
3. Less is more.
Journalists are very time poor. The last thing you want to do is send them something long winded, again, its likely to end up in the bin. Don’t dance around the topic. Pitch clearly and concisely, illustrate the value to the publication with confidence and outline exactly what you are looking for.
If you are honest and authentic, you are far more likely to have your pitch read and considered.
Text responses and quotes are informative, but with increasing expectations for visual stimulation and interactivity, it’s important to invest in original visual content as well.
Infographics are a perfect example of a win-win-win when it comes to promoting content. The visual asset provides a comprehensive format to present your expertise; audiences are better able to absorb the information in a visual display. The website where the content is published benefits because of the engagement it earns from posting high-quality, original assets (with the name of your business, so the publisher and publishee get recognition).
2. Follow the reporter’s guidelines.
On platforms like HARO, many reporters ask for responses that answer a set of specific questions or provide answers in a particular format. Marketers and PR people ignore these requirements at their peril. Even if the reporter asks for responses to be written in a certain way to make it easier for them to plug quotes into the article, do what they ask. You might get crowded out of an article, but you’ll never be rejected when you follow directions.
3. When writing as a client, use their voice.
PR pros often find themselves writing as other people. When this happens, try to avoid generalities and common information as much as possible. Quotes that communicate details one can find anywhere are not likely to be published. The key is to draw upon your expertise working in the particular industry, then amp it up to resemble the authenticity of the person you’re quoting.
1. Insert your brand into larger news stories, newsjacking.
Following the news consistently and keeping an eye out for what’s relevant can make all the difference in securing great media coverage. One great tactic to utilize in particular is ‘newsjacking.’ Newsjacking is the art of interjecting ideas into a breaking news story to generate media coverage. That’s why it’s so important PR professionals are monitoring the news and looking for ways to insert their product and/or client.
For example, if your product is a clothing item, accessory, or housewares, you could be on the lookout for Pantone’s Color of the Year announcement. If you sell products in that color, you could pitch yourself for a roundup of the best ways to incorporate the color of the year into everyday life. While every news item might not be an opportunity to interject your story, by consistently monitoring the news and creatively brainstorming opportunities to leverage your brand, newsjacking can prove to be a very beneficial tool.
Additionally, services such as HARO, ProfNet, PitchRate, and more are great ways to insert your brand into more significant news stories. Be sure to cash into these opportunities by subscribing and regularly monitoring them for all relevant queries. While developing your own creative pitch is an essential part of media relations, finding ways to jump on other opportunities is great – especially during a slow pitching time for your brand.
2. Remain persistent.
One of the best skills you can have as a PR professional is persistence. Rarely, if ever, is one pitch all it takes. Several rounds of follow-ups are important, as not everyone will read (or care) about your pitch after the first email.
Follow-ups are a great opportunity to share additional information regarding your brand and/or product and are a great way to catch the eye of a reporter with a shorter message. Remember, reporters, are busy and receive hundreds of email pitches a day. While they may just not be interested in what you have to offer, many just disregard your initial emails purely out of lack of time to read everything that’s sent to them.
PR professionals also hear ‘no’ a lot. It’s important to remain agile and persistent to generate media coverage. The best PR professionals bounce back from several rejections and find new ways to leverage their brand. Whether that means researching additional outlets and reporters to add to your press list or completely revamping the pitch and trying again, it’s important not to give up. It can take several attempts to get the high results you desire.
3. Be willing to try something new.
Falling into the trap of routine pitching can be easy. You create a press list with your usual outlets and reporters, develop a semi-basic press list, and begin pitching. However, if it’s boring to you, then it’ll undoubtedly be boring to whoever you’re pitching. That’s where creativity comes in.
Instead of going for the same old media coverage, consider unique PR opportunities, such as bloggers, social influencers, and even social media posts. Earned coverage doesn’t necessarily mean a feature story from a top-tier publication these days. Social media posts, newsletter additions, and smaller outlets can also generate great, if not better, results for your brand.
It also bodes well to try new things when it comes to pitching. Experiment and see what works best. Is it an emoji in the subject line? A personal story in the subject? An exclusive offer? Whatever it is, don’t settle for what you’re used to.
Include a link to a portfolio (or page) of previous media coverage that you’ve secured for your client. This will validate the marketplace appeal of what or who you’re pitching.
2. Follow the three C’s.
When pitching, it’s essential that your presentation is clear, concise, and convincing. The easier it is for a journalist or editor to grasp what you’re selling, the easier and faster it will be for him/her to share the info and move it forward in the approval chain.
3. Include a single call to action.
While it might seem obvious what you’re looking for when you get in touch with journalists or editors, be specific about your goal. Is it to see if the journalist/editor would like more information about the topic that you’re presenting? To set up an interview with a client? To provide more examples of the client’s work?
Whatever it is, ask the question so that the journalists/editors can reply with a precise response.
We live in an age where our inboxes are bombarded with messages. If your message is concise, the reporter will be more likely to read it.
2. Be clear.
When media pitching via email, clearly state what you are asking at the beginning of the pitch. Reporters are very busy and likely won’t respond to you if they can’t figure out what you’re asking.
3. Do your research.
If you want to become a reliable source, always do your research on a reporter before sending them a pitch. This will allow you to make sure the pitch fits into their coverage. If you build a reputation of sending relevant content, reporters will be more likely to look at future media pitches.
You get three emails per day filled with queries from reporters and journalists for the stories they’re working on. It’s a great, easy way to garner coverage for your brand. Just remember to pitch on topic (and no spamming) or you’ll get blacklisted. That applies to any pitching you do, be it on your own or via HARO.
2. It’s not about you!
You and your contact already know that you’re pitching something that will ultimately benefit you and/or your brand if they run with it. That goes without saying. Your goal is to give your media contact a lead that their audience will love, something that makes their job easier.
Editors, journalists and producers are busy.
They don’t have enough time to get it all done, but they need solid, engaging news. And that’s how pitching on-target with their interests helps them out. If you’ve done your homework, then you should know how your story will appeal to your media contact, and how or why it will resonate with their specific audience. How do you know for sure if your story is of interest to them? That leads to number three…
3. Know your contact(s) and pitch on-target.
Ask yourself these three questions before your pitch your media outlet and contact:
Do you understand the outlet’s areas of interest?
Have you researched your media outlets contact?
Can you directly tie your pitch and your angle to the interests of the publication and the person you’re contacting?
If your answer is yes, congratulations! You’re ready to pitch. If your answer is no, do a little more research to make sure you’re pitching on target before hitting send.
But what about just blasting my press release out for the world to see? Sorry. Gone are the days of expecting the media to cover a story you shared via a press release. While I still always write a press release, I use it as a deep-dive that lends context. What really matters here is the pitch. That’s your email. It should be short, concise, and the recipient should immediately understand why you contacted them. 3 paragraphs: Intro, the meat and sparkle, and how to reach you. After I draft my pitch email, I paste my press release in the body of the email, below my signature. It’s there if a journalist wants additional info. But I don’t expect people to run it directly.
Remember—DO NOT ATTACH ANYTHING to your email. It will go straight to spam or trash. Editors don’t like large file sizes clogging up their inboxes. Instead, provide links to images and videos, or offer them upon request. I find that many small businesses and entrepreneurs tend to be shy with their PR.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need a relationship with a journalist to start the conversation. While relationships never hurt, it’s not a requirement. The only requirement is that you’re pitching a solid, honest story that will resonate with the outlet, journalist and their audience. And that’s what will ultimately help you build your own relationships.
Keep the pitch brief and punchy. When you’re making contact by phone or email, you need to gain attention quickly. If you can’t win their attention super quick, it won’t win their audience. Here are a few “rules” I follow.
1. Keep the intro quick.
If they don’t know me yet, I need to establish my credibility as quickly as possible. They don’t want my life story. They just want to know why they should listen to me.
For example: Hello, my name is Derek Bryant. I am the Director of Content Marketing for my digital marketing agency.
I don’t always include the company name because: A) It doesn’t matter unless the company is highly renowned. B) Taking time to explain can derail the point and lose focus.
2. Get to the value fast!
Remember you have seconds to hook the reader before they lose interest, and you go in the trash. You need to break their automatic brain patterns and immediately engage with the value of your content.
If they’ve opened the email and are reading it, your headline hook has worked. So you need to build off that same theme. Don’t go off on some other value or benefit. Even if what you’re pitching has multiple value propositions. Stick to the same one that got you the open.
3. Break up the content for skimming.
When writing for the email, it’s important to keep your content broken up as much as possible.
Use bullet points, page breaks, whatever you can to section your words in a way that can be understood immediately. If that works, they’ll go through and read again to get the details. But first glance has to make sense.
4. Don’t be too clever.
I used to try too hard to be witty. The problem is, that often requires the reader to think too hard up front. This isn’t scrabble, use common words instead of fluffing to sound smarter. Another way to keep yourself from overdoing things in an email is to remember you’re trying to have a conversation. So write like you would talk to someone. Use syntax, commas, ellipses, etc. to create the pauses and emphasis you would in real life. Even if it doesn’t meet with proper grammar.
5. Provide the next step.
Don’t make it difficult for the journalist to follow up with you if they’re interested. Relist your contact information in your signature.
I’ve been testing my emails by even including a standing GoToMeeting link invitation at the bottom with a time for a quick follow up call. If they’re interested, all they have to do is click, and it’s in their calendar, and they know exactly how to get in touch again. On the phone, if they don’t have time to get into the topic with more depth in the first call, I give a specific time for the next call and take the responsibility that I’ll call them.
6. Build your black book.
Attend industry conferences to stay up on industry trends. I also run into a lot of journalists/writers/ contributors, and I make a point to connect with them in person.
This makes it infinitely easier to contact them when I have content that needs spread and fits their niche. This way they know me and my credibility, and I know their target audience. I only send them pitches that are related to their demographic, so it builds trust with them when I look to reach out later with more content.
7. How to follow up without pestering Journalists.
My formula for outreach generally looks like: ·
1st email: The initial pitch – following the method from above.
2nd email: Subject line: [press release title] – following up
I’ll send this out 2-3 days after the first. It gives the journalist some time to respond, and makes sure if the email just got lost that your story hasn’t gone stale yet. I usually write the subject line to include the headline of the article since this is supposed to be written as your first and strongest hook. Including following up conveys that there has been some action prior. ·
1st call: 2-3 days after the second email I’ll try and call. If they don’t answer I leave a voicemail and explain my pitch again (keeping it to at MOST 20 seconds.) This is going to be my final attempt, so sometimes I’ll throw in a deadline to try and create some urgency.
For example: I know you’re busy so I’ll assume if I don’t hear from you by Thursday you’re not interested in this story.
Timing is key when it comes to pitching a great campaign. I’m not just talking about pitching your campaign at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week; I mean truly understanding how news cycles work to ensure your PR campaign lands in a news editor’s inbox at the perfect moment.
If you don’t do this, your campaign might be the right story at the wrong time. I once had a fun campaign in which we surveyed people about their wedding fears. We were going to wait until wedding season (June to September) to pitch it. However, we knew publications in this sector would probably have busy editorial calendars at this time, not to mention pitches from thousands of other PRs. Therefore, we decided to pitch it off-season, early in the year – particularly since the story was about people thinking ahead to their weddings.
We managed to land a lot of significant coverage, and I firmly believe it was because the timing was spot on.
Here are my three tips that I believe have contributed to our success the past many years:
1. Follow the rules.
Especially for HARO pitches: make sure you qualify before responding. When you respond, make sure you answer the question(s). Seems simple, but many overlook this.
2. Demonstrate your credibility.
I always open a pitch with my relevant credentials and follow with related links that further illustrate thought leadership and credibility.
3. Do not overwhelm with information.
Provide enough information to be considered but don’t flood the editor with too much information.
It’s a delicate balance: provide enough information to differentiate and provide credibility, but not so much that it overwhelms or frustrates the editor. Less can be more, as it increases the probability they will follow up with you for more information.
Reporters can easily spot an e-mail blasted out to an entire media list. Tailoring the message to a specific reporter indicates that you did your research and believe your story idea aligns with their coverage. Sending a sincere note about a recent article is also a great way to connect with a reporter and shows that you understand their beat.
2. Think like a reporter.
Reporters are on deadline. They don’t have time to go back and forth with PR pros, so craft a concise e-mail with everything you can offer, including sources, quotes, and b-roll. Better yet, think like a storyteller who’s on the hunt for a captivating character about an issue that impacts their audience.
3. Know Your Audience.
In addition to mainstream outlets, targeting niche media can be just as influential and a lot more accessible in connecting directly with the audience that matters most for your client.
Paul Ronto CMO and Director of Content & Research, Run Repeat
1. Be authentic and pitch content that you actually believe the user needs. Do your research and find a media outlet or reporter that cares about and covers the topic you are pitching.
2. Find a personal connection that helps build the relationship. Reporters are pitched all the time, so you need to focus on the relationship and not just the pitch. Show how your pitch matters to the end user and the reporter.
3. Sending out templated pitches to dozens of writers doesn’t work anymore. Pitching is hard to scale, but personalized outreach is worth the effort in the end.
4. Create the content for the media outlet. If you can provide a bulleted list, or an infographic, or some other asset they can cut and paste, you just made their job easier. If they have to recreate your thoughts, it’s unlikely you’ll have a great response.
5. Have sources ready to back up your information. Media outlets seek facts and data, not opinion so the more you can back up your claims the better. Survey your users and provide numbers with your pitch.
6. Be concise. Nothing kills a pitch faster than rambling and filler. You can have a voice, but you need to present your ideas clearly and quickly.
7. Respond quickly. Reporters are on a deadline, so if you pitch and they have followup questions you need to respond ASAP, even if that’s during dinner, on the weekend or late at night. Wait until the next day, and you may have just lost the pitch.
8. Follow up. Reporters are busy, and things fall through the cracks. Sending a 2nd or 3rd email to see if they are still working on a piece and offering help may be precisely what tips the scale.
9. Use your tools to find the right contact. Nothing kills a good pitch like it going to the wrong person. Don’t blind pitch, find the correct email for the specific person you want to reach. If that means calling the front desk and asking, do it. LinkedIn Sales Navigator, RocketReach, and Vuelio all help find who you’re looking for.
Reporters, editors, and influencers are busy people and receive multiple pitches a day. Be proactive and answer all of their questions in your pitch BEFORE they have a chance to ask them. Include relevant dates for product launches, events, etc. Add credentialing information for the expert(s) you are pitching and link to all images and social handles. This cuts the time they’d need to spend emailing back and forth with you on the person or product you’re pitching.
2. Nurture relationships.
Build rapport with the journalists you want to target before you send them a pitch. Follow them on Twitter, read their articles and learn about the people you want to reach out to. Gone are the days of blind copying everyone in a massive pitch. Take the time to nurture relationships with your top media contacts.
3. Does it really matter?
Pitching shouldn’t just pique the interest of the journalist you are targeting, but should also pique the attention of the audience who will be reading their piece. Tying your product or expert to a real life issue, breaking news moment or little-known problem can make your pitch relevant and prove that whatever you’re trying to get covered does matter.
In today’s media landscape, many PR pros and brands are still getting the majority of their pitching wrong. They will provide journalists with a lot of hype based corporate messaging and announcements, and while this might work for the largest of brands, for smaller organizations, this is less than efficacious.
Smart SMBs will seek to provide journalists with exceptional novel data that showcases new trends, insights, and behaviors. By doing so they can still highlight their company/announcements, but in a way that also provides a story larger than themselves, garnering for more journalist and audience intrigue.
So many brands think that once they engage a PR agency or team, they can put it on autopilot and watch the placements roll in. In reality, engaging a PR team is only the beginning. While a thoughtful, strategic PR team can take you a long way – it is the job of the brand to bring topics, content or subject matter experts to the table that can fill the PR content funnel with engaging, timely and relevant materials.
Even the best PR agency or practitioner in the world cannot help you if you have nothing to talk about.
2. Target meaningful audiences.
If you ask any brand manager about her PR goals, most likely she is going to mention the desire to secure large, national press placements—like New York Times or Good Morning America. While this might seem like the ultimate PR “win, it should not be considered the end-all, be-all of successful PR.
Today’s media audiences are incredibly fragmented so that a brand can make the same impact through a combination of smaller, targeted outlets. Ultimately, a brand’s goal should be to reach the people it truly needs to reach through the channels that matter most to their audience.
1. Develop relationships with reporters before having a story you want to pitch them.
If they know your name when the email, phone call or tweet comes in with a pitch, they are more likely to be interested. This also goes for once you have worked with a reporter, make sure that you keep a list of every reporter you have ever worked with and when emailing them do not forget to mention the last story that you worked together on.
2. Use Twitter as a resource for public relations pitching.
Sending reporters a direct tweet will often have less competition than an email their inbox.
Another benefit of tweeting a reporter is even if they do not cover your story they often retweet your pitch to their followers. This allows for a new audience to learn more about the story you are trying to promote.
3. Don’t forget to include the associated press in your PR pitching.
If they pick up the story, it will be most often be seen in newspapers and TV stations from coast to coast.
It is important to know your audience, and it is two-fold. One, you need to know your reporter well. It is important to know their beat, what they regularly and recently cover, and take a look at their social media footprint. Two, on top of all that it is essential to understand their audience. The most straightforward things to focus on are; how does their audience consume media and what types of stories are getting the most engagement
2. Keep it short and sweet.
As a PR professional it is your job to understand what reporters are interested in. Don’t send them long emails with paragraphs of adjectives. Send pitches that get straight to the point. I try and stay around 200 – 300 words.
3. Use Bullet Points.
Avoid hiding the critical information within emails. Write a quick intro and then use bullet points to highlight the key pieces of information that would be relevant to the specific reporter’s audience.
1. Mention your competitors and how your company is different from the competition.
2. Send pitches by email and include all information in the body of the email and not in the attachment. Be specific and brief in the subject line. Personalize your email.
3. Make the pitch short and simple, avoid buzzwords (e.g., revolutionary, visionary, unique, etc.), they obscure the actual news. Communicate your core idea while painting the full picture. A good pitch answers the main W-questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why. Think like a reader — why would anyone want to read this?
Nothing frustrates a news professional, especially producers and assignments editors, more than receiving a pitch during a newscast or breaking news. There are a few windows of time that can, at most stations across the country, be considered sweet spot times.
– Between 7 am and 9 am – most newsrooms will have assignment editors or producers coming in around that time to line up potential stories for the day and look ahead. Most newsrooms have morning meetings at 9 am or 9:30 am. So if you have news that day in the daytime, you want to be in that conversation. Top of mind increases the probability of news coverage.
– Between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm – On the TV side this is after the noon show and before the standard afternoon editorial meeting that helps decide the late afternoon and evening coverage. Same rules as our previous point apply.
– 7 pm – 9 pm Never between (9 and midnight) – this is the time slot after all local afternoon shows and before the evening. This is also the middle of the day for anyone who works the late afternoon/evening shift (nightside). This time slot is also a good time to send your press release in for consideration the following morning.
– Magazines – you must check each magazine’s respective editorial calendars. Pitching your product for the health edition of a beauty book 30 days before the magazine is published is pointless. Depending on the circulation of the magazine, editorial lead times can 90-150 days. Naturally, there are online editions they may accept your pitch, but make sure you specifically pitch the online editors.
*times referenced are East Coast. But you can apply the model in any time zone.
– Breakings News – Be aware what is going on in the specific markets you are pitching before your email or call. If there is major breaking news. DON’T CONTACT THEM. Not only is it annoying for newsroom professionals, it highly decreases your probability of earning coverage.
2. Make an effort, tailor the pitch the type of media outlet.
The who, what, why, when, and where are still essential. Add an element that takes into account who you are targeting.
– For television, add some description of what visuals may be available. Depending on what media market you are in and the quality of the story, the visuals may be the deciding factor
– For print/online (newspapers, magazines) – make sure you specifically target the reporter who covers the beat your story is associated with. Make sure you hone in on the effect the story has on anyone interested in or involved in the beat you are pitching too. For instance, a new technology company’s invention to help doctor’s offices track patient’s progress, pitch to the reporter who writes for the medical and/or tech beat. Keep in mind sometimes the media outlet itself is a beat or industry based, IE: Tech Magazines, community-based papers only care about stories clearly tied to that community, mommy bloggers, etc.
– Radio/In-studio TV segments- make sure you are clear that you have a guest available to be interviewed for the X topic.
3. Less is more.
Pick just a few main points to highlight in your media pitch. Too often a business wants to talk about a story and then many other wonderful things about the company. Stick to the essential elements. You must remember that in many markets around the country traditional news outlets get hundreds of press releases per day.
National news outlets see thousands. It is one of the reasons why hiring a publicist with established contacts is important; it helps increase the probability of being considered and possibly covered. The good news is there is more news than ever.
1. The top thing I can recommend is to take your time.
Working under tight deadlines and balancing multiple projects, PR professionals sometimes trip over themselves in a rush to get it all done. Typos, wrong journalist names, missing subject lines—these common mistakes can be avoided by slowing down a bit and focusing on the task at hand.
2. It’s important to build your own library of knowledge on each journalist you pitch.
Website bios and contact databases hardly, if ever, tell the full story of a journalist, what they might cover, and how they prefer to be pitched. As you receive feedback from journalists, it’s beneficial to consolidate those responses into a unified database that you and other team members can use to tailor future pitches.
3. Pick up the phone and call the journalist.
While it’s quicker to reach a large number of media contacts through email and social media, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out in a crowded inbox. But the most successful pitchers are the ones who can synthesize their story idea into a natural conversation with a journalist over the phone. Not only does it make it more likely that your angle will be considered, but the journalist is also much more likely to click on your next email.
1. Niche placements can be just as effective if not more than top-tier placements.
Many people mistakenly assume that the only PR placements that matter are the ones in publications like the New York Times or The Washington Post. Depending on your client, niche publications can give you even better results than placement in the New York Times. This is because niche publications have a particular audience as opposed to a broad audience.
If you are representing an organic baby brand, a niche publication that caters to natural and organic baby products will likely give you better results than aiming to get a placement in the LA Times. While top-tier placements are still a huge PR win, it is crucial that you don’t write off the smaller publications.
2. Research editors before a media pitch.
Before you pitch your client or product to an editor, make sure they are actually a good fit. If you represent a sporting goods store and you pitch the culinary editor at the Wall Street Journal, you aren’t going to get a response. While this may seem obvious, a lot of PR professionals don’t take the time to perform in-depth research before pitching an editor.
Even if you think that you have the correct editor, go and look at their most recent articles. Often, writers and editors will switch roles within their publications. Just because they wrote about sports a few months ago, doesn’t mean they necessarily still write about sports now.
3. Create a catchy subject line.
Journalists get hundreds of pitches every day. As a PR professional, it’s your job to come up with something that will catch their eye. This often means coming up with a snazzy or unique email subject line to increase your opening rate. When a target journalist is scanning through a hundred emails, they probably aren’t going to open every single one so try to make your email stand out from the rest!
Best subject line pitch examples
1. Tips & Tricks for Pitching to Win – From Small Businesses and Startups to Entrepreneurs and Innovators
2. Dallas Startup Lands High Profile Billionaire Investor
3. Exclusive: IT Company Releases New Dating Technology
4. Writer pitching a sneak peek at Texas’s least-known BBQ joints.
Make sure the reason why you are reaching out is in the subject line and/or the first few sentences of an email. Media are receiving tons of pitches every day. If you are not able to summarize the story or idea in a quick, digestible manner, you are never going to hook them into reading the rest of your pitch.
2. Always take your time to know your reporter especially if you are crafting a pitch for them and reaching out to them often. Are you pitching them because you recently saw them cover something relevant? Tie that into your pitch! Media appreciate it when you show you understand their beats and what they like to write.
3. Don’t hesitate to make a phone call but do it with respect.
Always ask the reporter you are calling if they have time for a quick chat first before diving head in with the pitch. If yes, fire away! If no, move on. Once you have their attention, make sure not to take too much of their time. Keep your elevator pitches on the phone no more than 30-45 seconds!
4. Get to know your reporter.
If you are working with the same person over and building a relationship, ask them out for a coffee or drink if they are based in your area. I have developed some great relationships and met some great friends just through this!
Whether your content is based on research (desk research, internal stats, external data) a visual, or an interactive piece, make sure you explain how you collected your information or how you came up with the results/story. It needs to be clear, if the journalist finds it confusing, they will never share it with their readers.
2. Have something extra that you can offer or follow up with.
When pitching to the press, it’s always good to mention what extras you can offer. Whether that is additional information, quotes, data, or simply images, give them a reason to get back to you and start a conversation.
The importance of “news-jacking” in PR is underestimated. New products, services, and books launch every day. Rather than trying to convince time-strapped journalists to cover what only you (and/or your client) may deem as newsworthy, hijack the news.
Insert yourself into the conversation that’s already happening rather than trying to start a new one. Show the relevance of your product, client, etc. by pitching angles attached to current stories that the media are already covering.
I find that the pitching process requires building a rapport between the public relations executive and writer.
If you want to successfully pitch a writer, you should be able to talk to them – like they are people.
Don’t be fake or impersonal. Come to an understanding of what they focus on and how they can give you want you want while surprising you along the way.
It’s time-consuming to do. But once you have that relationship in place, it stays locked in place. Writers often change verticals and when that happens, they let their PR contacts know so that they may better determine which clients should move along for the ride.
Always Promote Articles You are Quoted In, Share the Love!
1. Embed a small image in your email pitch to an editor.
I pitch products a lot. For some reason last summer, I did a series of media pitches and did not include an image. Later I saw that one of the outlets wrote about my client’s product but did not include my client. When I asked the editor why she said that I did not add a photo, so she forgot about it!
2. Pitch the correct person.
You may find a contact from an online database or contacted them last year, but before pitching them this time, make sure that they are still at the outlet you are pitching and that they are still covering the same topic. Often, you can look at an outlet’s website, search the writer’s name, and see when he or she last posted an article. If the latest article is not a recent one, it’s a good bet that they have moved on to a new role.
1. Get your meaningful credentials front and center for your niche topic.
If you are pitching Forbes as an expert on Future of Work, for example, don’t just tell them you are a ‘business consultant. Talk about where you’ve been published, what keynote speeches you’ve given on the subject, and clients you may have worked with that have brand recognition within your field.
If you can’t name names, then talk about stats: if you are a social media marketer and you helped drive 20% more traffic to your company’s website, then SAY THAT first thing. Don’t bury it.
2. How your format your pitch is everything.
This isn’t a 2000 word blog post.
Use bulleted lists for your experience and publications, create a live link to article and blogs where you’ve been quoted, as well as your social media channels, and use bold and underline feature to bring out important points you want to make.
Writers and reporters scan 100s of responses a day, make their lives easier while making YOUR ideas stand out!
3. Build up thought leadership BEFORE you start pitching.
This seems hard: how can you get published to get published? What I mean is this:
Find your target audience and start talking to them.
This means updating your LinkedIn to say exactly who you are and what you do, including your areas of expertise. Make sure you are active with posts and building your network.
If you are in the fashion or beauty world, for example, start going live on Facebook and Instagram, and utilize Instagram stories every single day.
Use videos and photos to make your products and expertise come to life, with styling tips, tutorials, etc.
If you are in the business world, start tweeting relevant content to what services you offer, and on keep publishing updates and LinkedIn articles.
No matter your niche market, think about launching a website Even a microsite–that says who you are and what you do and creating a blog for that site.
Alongside active and engaged social media channels, your pitches will be much more attractive to reporters.
That being said, when pitching, keep the journalist in mind. It’s their job to cover newsworthy topics that will entice current and prospective readers. Avoid overly self-promotional topics. You are merely wasting their time and your own, as it will likely not be published.
2. Always be thinking ahead.
Requests for quotes from high-ranking officials, statistics, and images, and prepare accordingly. Many journalists have tight deadlines and will likely require quick turnarounds regarding feedback.
Cassie Gonzalez Brand & Community Manager, OnePitch
1. Weekends, take a breather.
Avoid sending pitches over the weekend and risking them getting lost in a journalist’s inbox. According to the data we have collected at OnePitch, over 75% of responses from journalists occur between Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
2. Always provide the why for the journalist.
Rather than simply stating what your client is doing, provide your media contacts with what the potential impact would be for their audience. Relevant stats and metrics can also be used to back up why the journalist should pursue the story.
3. Less is more.
On average, journalists spend less than 1 minute reading an email pitch before they decide whether or not they are going to respond (source: AdWeek).
Take a direct and straightforward approach to your email pitch to make sure that a journalist can quickly and easily understand the value of pursuing a relationship with you and your client.
Rhonda Rees PR Expert, Author, Speaker, and Advocate, Rhonda Rees
1. Use a unique press release.
I have found that the best way to get great media coverage is to create a winning press release that has an active subject angle or hook.
2. Come up with a very concise email subject line.
Make editors, producers or other booking contacts want to open up your message. This should be kept to no more than around 65-70 characters. Tying your subject into the headlines, offering a unique perspective or creating something original will help you to get the media’s attention.
3. Create a concise paragraph or two at the beginning of your message that will peak their interest, and get them to take a look at your press release so that they’ll want to read further.
4. Develop an email list for targeting.
It’s also smart to put together a tailor-made media list, and to distribute it to the right audience, with the correct editor, producer or contact’s name. Follow-up in the form of sound media relations is also very important. I get on the phones and speak directly to key editors and producers, etc.
For a back-up, making use of web-based wire services is also recommended. PR Web, PR Newswire, and EIN Presswire are some examples. Many of them can also distribute your information to the Associated Press, and provide analytics reports as to where your coverage was granted.
It is also smart to market this effort by posting any media coverage to a website, blog, or by sending it out through social media. Email marketing, making reprints of article mentions, or handing them out at events is also an excellent way to ensure that you will always be remembered.
Always start by answering why the other person should be interested in your pitch. The best way to grab anyone’s attention and to get them to listen to you is to tell them what they will get out of this conversation. That way you start the discussion with a hook that will keep them engaged. Then you can communicate other details during the conversation, once you’ve piqued the audience’s interest.
2. Always Have an Elevator Pitch Ready
You should keep your pitch short, precise, and relevant, so much so that you can make it even if you get two minutes with someone in an elevator. The idea is to make the most impact in the shortest amount of time. You may not always get a one-on-one meeting or the luxury of having a detailed conversation. So, be ready to make a pitch on-the-go.
3. Do Your Research and Be Prepared to Answer Questions
A lot of people focus only on pitching and finding opportunities. But when they get a reply, then they often fall short on their promises because they were not ready to answer follow-up questions. So, prepare for all of the questions that can be asked.
A journalist has to sift through the clutter and pick out the news that fits the audience’s wants and needs.
2. Have a peg, an angle, data, and a competitive differentiator to make a newsworthy story.
A peg is what makes your story newsworthy. It gives the reporter more reason to pay attention and makes your story stronger. A peg can do with timing, such as the holiday season, or it can be something about your company that ties into broader trends in the market.
You need to find a unique way to convince them to open the door. Think about what makes your story different than other pitches the reporter is receiving.
3. Use supporting data to help paint a picture.
Numbers don’t lie. Data substantiate opinions and helps your pitch stand out. Reporters value sources that can provide them with relevant and interesting data.
No one wants to hear an endless pitch if they just aren’t feeling what you are offering. This might push them away from you potentially in the future for working together. As well as possibly making sure to never respond to emails or calls again depending on how lengthy the amount of content you intend on sharing.
2. Be professional and personable.
Use your best manners and don’t let your emotions of a potentially failed pitch get the best of you. Remember, not everyone who may say no at a certain period of time is gone forever. With professional, being kind and remembering to say thank you for your time, please, and thank you may just land you another chance at another point in time. Building relationships with potential clients and friends can go a far way in this business. You never know when you might be able to help each other out.
3. Don’t become a spammer.
Don’t bombard someone with dozens of emails, calls, or check-ups. If you haven’t heard a clear surefire answer by the end of a period, say something along the lines of:
Hey there, my accountant wanted to clear all of our current accounts by the end of the month and wanted to see if the pitch was a yay or a nay. Either way, I appreciate you for taking the time to sit down and talk. I really enjoyed it.
Short, simple, and to the point as the dominant theme.
Build and Cultivate Relationships Before Pitching.
The best pitching tip I have for public relations is to create a relationship with that journalist you are contacting. Connecting more with the human side, being a bit more personal and show interest. Finding where they spend their time, what they post and follow on Twitter, Facebook groups, forums and other social media that they use. Which is their online community? Do they have a blog?
If yes, comment on their blog posts, engage with them on social media and make them know you before sending them your email pitch. If you don’t have time for that, it means that this relationship doesn’t mean much for you.
Journalists receive countless press releases and tips each day with each pitch starting with the typical hi xx, hope you’re well!. They know you don’t care how they are, so start with something a little a personalized greeting that feels genuine. Whether it’s bonding with them over a show they’re obsessed with according to their Twitter bio, or mentioning your thoughts on an article they had previously written; a personalized greeting can go a long way.
2. Grab attention
It’s hard to sell something to a writer that isn’t necessarily looking to buy so you want to sell it as your life depends on it. As a PR pitch example, I headed media efforts for Livia’s Indiegogo Campaign which ultimately won my pr agency PR Daily’s Best PR Campaign of the Year.
Livia is a wearable device that helps ease the pain of menstrual cramps so how did I make something so unsexy get viral coverage? I was bold and put it out there with the subject line Periods Are Bloody Awful! Livia’s Here To Relieve Your Pain.
3. Take no for an answer.
Sometimes publicists don’t know how to back down when a writer has passed on a story. It’s okay, and this can even be used to your advantage! You can reply to the journalist and ask them what stories they are most interested in. That way, in the future, you can send the right story their way, and it’ll hopefully end up in a slam dunk.
1. Pitching is all about where and how you sell your story.
While it’s one of the basic principles of public relations, there is an art form to it.
Make sure your pitch is newsworthy and relevant. Journalists are often sifting through hundreds of emails daily. To stand out from the pack, make sure that your pitch is concise and interesting.
As you’re drafting your pitch, take a moment to ask these questions:
What is the newsworthy component of this story?
Why should this outlet pick up this story?
How does this story relate to past stories that this outlet has covered?
If you have trouble answering these questions your pitch might need to be developed more, or you may want to consider a different angle.
2. Pitch your client’s story as part of a larger trend story.
With shrinking newsrooms, publications rarely feature just one business in a story. PR professionals should do their homework and see how their client’s story can fit into a larger narrative.
3. Foster off-email relationships with reporters.
Set up a phone call or, even better, an in-person meeting so reporters can put a face to your name, ensuring that your pitches have a better chance of not ending up in the trash.
4. Follow up but don’t overload your media contacts.
Journalists are very busy, so more than likely they won’t be able to respond right away. In general, we like to follow up with our contacts one week after the initial pitch. After that, it’s best to move on if there has not been a response.
5. Personalize your pitch.
Chances are you’ve cultivated a relationship with your media contacts. However, blind copying several journalists on email pitches can feel impersonal and often does not result in a response. Instead, send out pitches to each media contact separately and make sure the pitch makes sense for that specific outlet and the reporters beat. For instance, a pitch rounding up the best sparkling wines for the summer would make sense for a food and beverage outlet, but it would not make sense for a lifestyle publication that focuses on home decor.
6. Practice reactive pitching.
If a publication recently published a story that your client would have been perfect for, now is the time to act! For example, we found an article from a widely-read publication highlighting a company’s achievement in zero waste. We happened to have a client that was also taking great strides in diverting waste away from landfills, so we reached out to the reporter and made an introduction. A profile about our client profile was published a week later.
Learn to Reactive Pitch Based On a Publications Recent Articles
Make connections with your journalists before you pitch a story.
Draft a creative story pitch instead of a cold press release and provide backup information.
Personalize each email so that it mentions why they should be interested in your stories.
2. How do you get top journalists and producers to respond to your pitch?
I build a portfolio by prospecting journalists in the tech industry and region by using multiple channels such as Meltwater, Mention, HARO and Google Alerts. I spend time on researching the beats of journalists in their industry, then build relationships with those journalists, finding opportunities to help them write great stories.
When it comes to pitching, I consider building a connection on a personal level rather than promoting our name. Having to say that I mean I am working with reporters and editors as a fantastic resource by sharing relevant news and proactive story angles that create value for their audiences.
3. Build a Press Page.
Along the way, don’t forget to chalk up your biggest hits on a Press page.
Journalists like knowing that you’ve been covered in the past. The more success you have, the more momentum and credibility you build, and eventually, reporters may start knocking on your door for a story!
Be A Reliable Provider Of Information, Journalists Like to Work With Established Sources
When it comes to securing earned media for your clients or your company, having a great story is not enough. More often than not, your success will be determined by your ability to craft an effective and engaging pitch that will reach the right journalists.
1. The Subject line is ESSENTIAL.
A common mistake when pitching is not paying enough attention to the subject line of your email. It’s the first (and often the last) part of an email that a journalist will see. Make sure to treat your subject line as if it were the title of a news article. Stay away from “click-bait” headers like “Must see the product from XYZ” or hyperbolic descriptions along the lines of “Incredible news from XYZ.”
2. Make it personal.
When it comes to effective pitching, quantity does not equate to quality. As opposed to carpet-bombing your local media market, research a handful of reporters who are most likely to be interested in your story based on their previous work. Reach out to them by name.
In addition to leading with the reporter’s name (spelled correctly!), research the recent articles they have covered to make sure your story fits within their wheelhouse.
2. Remember to proofread carefully.
Forgetting this final step can have a drastic effect on your results. Write your pitch, step away for at least an hour (if not a full day) and come back to it with fresh eyes for a final proofread before sending. If you have a coworker or colleague that can review it for you, that is even better!
The spray and pray method is not useful in securing quality media hits. Sending irrelevant pitches to reporters may even have a negative effect, as the reporter could remember you as the annoying person and further clogged their email. Conduct your research on both the outlet and the reporter to make sure your pitch will be something that could fit.
Sending a single pitch out and then sitting idly by will not get results. Follow up and offer a new data point or news hook to make the follow up worth reading, and not merely a circling back to you on XYZ. Do keep in mind the outlet you’ve pitched, a follow-up email or call the next day may be appropriate for a daily paper, but it is far too soon for a magazine or long lead outlet.
3. Research, be a social media sleuth.
By researching a reporter thoroughly on social media, you can find valuable information. For example, that the reporter is on vacation. Thus you needn’t waste your time with follow-ups at the moment. A pet peeve for phone calls (in which case stick with email) or a shared mutual interest that you may be able to break the ice with.