A common-sense guide on PR’s best ways to pitch news media via email
Getting your story ideas in front of journalists may seem like the equivalent of trying to open a safe with only one number of the combination. You’ve heard that most journalists prefer to be pitched via email, but your messages still don’t resonate. Maybe you’re doing it all wrong.
Pitching takes time, skill and patience, and you should never attempt it without a solid, comprehensive plan. With some public relations tips, you can learn the secrets you need to pitch like a pro.
- Never auto-pitch.
If you have software that lets you mail merge to change names and minor details in a standard pitch and send to multiple journalists, throw it out. That’s exactly what most reporters will do with this kind of pitch. They don’t want the same information you’ve sent to dozens of others.
Each and every pitch should be unique to the journalist reading the email. Remember that there is an actual human at the other computer. Address your email to the exact reporter (not simply “editor” or “business writer”). Research has shown that one of the biggest reasons reporters reject emailed pitches is that they read like impersonal spam.
- Do your research (on the reporter).
Nothing will get your pitch deleted faster than sending it to the wrong reporter. No, the wrong reporter will not kindly forward it to the right reporter. Find out what the right reporter wants and which angles are most likely to get her attention.
When you have done your homework, you will be able to personalize the subject line and message of the email to cut through the clutter of all the other email pitches she has received that day. If your information and the reporter are a good fit, it will make pitching easier.
- Remember your subject line is critical.
Think about every email you receive. What you see first is the name of the sender and the subject line. Since the journalist will probably not recognize your name, your subject line better be good to entice him enough to open the message.
Phrases such as “interview possibility,” “press release,” and “re:” in the subject line are unacceptable. Also, you should never forward anything. You must also avoid bait-and-switch tactics, such as making your subject line “Mars Needs Women” when your pitch is really about your company getting a contract with NASA. Your subject line should be thoughtful, simple and directly related to your pitch.
- Keep your pitch short and sweet (and interesting).
It is very tempting to put everything you know about your story in a pitch, hoping it will make the reporter more interested, but this actually has the opposite effect. Your pitch should quickly and briefly answer this question: Why will my readers be interested in your news?
Journalists receive dozens of pitches just like yours every day. If your pitch is long and complicated, they will give up and press delete. When your news is intricate and detailed, you can provide links where they can get additional information – or perhaps use an infographic.
- Hire a PR firm to do all this for you.
The truth is that effective, successful pitching takes time. It’s much wiser to hand it over to the experts so you can focus on big-picture goals and objectives.
At Axia Public Relations, we are constantly working to build relationships with journalists and position our clients for maximum media coverage. We pitch every day, so when your company has news to share, we will already have the lock open. Download our e-book Learn Media Relations from the Media or contact us today to get started on optimizing your media relations success.
Lisa Goldsberry is a blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
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