Hitting Home Run With That Perfect Pitch
Last week we talked about the difference between a pitch vs a press release. Today, we’ll give you some valuable tips on how to write a pitch that is bound to get noticed by even the busiest journalist.
Many cling to the traditional notion that “getting PR” involves hitting the phones and calling their journo-buddies – nothing could be further from the truth. Although personal relationships with journalists provide the added bonus – a great story is what it takes to reel them in. And you also have to be especially artful in appealing to their interest.
Some tips to get you started:
1. Getting the right contact. Ask any editor what his greatest pet peeve is and the answer is usually receiving pitches that are completely off the target. Do your research – read up on the publication, its audience and distribution. This can go a long way in building a favourable relationship with the journalist or editor, even if they don’t cover your story the first time round. Be sure to send pitches that are publication–specific and more importantly, RELEVANT.
2. It isn’t just business. It’s personal. A personal email addressed specifically to an editor or Be sure to match your pitch to their interest. And don’t be afraid to be human and use humour – journalist and editors will appreciate it.
3. Practice SEO. You’ll be surprised to know that SEO works even in an email. Again, if the journalist doesn’t use your story the first time round, they may keep it on file for later use. And when they fo contact you the next time, you’ll be proud to know that you’ve become a resource for them.
4. Content is KING. Words wield power. If you’re trying to get the attention of journalists and editors, you know the magic lies in the writing. The subject line is everything; it’s the difference between an email being opened or dumped. You can be playful with the use of clever alliteration or pun.
The best pitches are short and sweet. Something to note – there are three elements to every good news story: (1) the story itself; (2) spokespeople who can support the story and; (3) statistics (facts) that can prove it. Journalists and editors have a ton of emails to look through. Do them a favour and get straight to the point.
Lastly, always remember that errors in spelling and grammar are unforgiveable. Check and double check your work before sending it out. Or you’ll end up like this guy.
5. Beauty isn’t skin deep. If you are cutting-and-pasting the pitch, send a test email to yourself to see how it looks. Formatting or fonts can change. Sending an email with obvious differences in font type and size looks sloppy and gives the impression that you don’t care.
6. Follow up. Journalists are busy and can sometimes unintentionally miss a pitch. A polite follow up email or a phone call could bring the attention of a highly-relevant story that may spur them into action.
Public relations are all about building relationships with the media. Even if they don’t accept the pitch, you can still be good friends. Continue to stay in contact with the editor or journalist, send them good ideas and information. In no time, they’ll come to recognize you as reliable resource contact for news stories.
A good pitch is the first step to establishing a good relationship that, if fostered over time, will yield positive benefits for both you and the journalist.