6 tips for getting better results with your pitches
How often do you get a call from someone trying to sell you something and the person begins by asking if you have a minute? This is an immediate way to shut down the conversation and end the call. In today’s busy world, no one really has a minute.
As you are pitching, you will discover that the same is true for journalists. You will find that it’s never a good time to pitch a journalist. Journalists may be working on several stories at one time and are often on tight deadlines. This means they are usually far too busy to speak by phone about your pitch idea, especially when others are bombarding them – often with pitches that don’t pertain to the area or topic that they cover.
One reporter recently told me someone pitched her about a local event that was more than 1,000 miles away. Far too frequently, PR professionals aren’t doing their due diligence to increase their yeses.
Newsrooms continue to shrink and technology continues to evolve, making it more difficult than ever to pitch a reporter. As journalists become more stretched, it is important to recognize that there is never a good time to pitch them, however, you can make them more receptive to your pitch and make their lives easier by using these tips.
- Know when journalists conduct planning meetings. Many media outlets have planning meetings between 8:30-9:30 a.m. and again between 2:30-3:30 p.m. Reach out to journalists before these meetings so they can share your story with their editors.
- Don’t apologize. Yes, you are bothering the journalist with your pitch, but don’t apologize for pitching. Journalists need sources for their stories and you need journalists to write about your company. Work to find a balance.
- Build a relationship. This includes connecting with journalists at PRSA roundtables or connecting with them on social media. When you meet journalists, get to know them before talking about your client. Recognize how they may want to connect: by phone, email, text or social media.
- Remember the subject line matters. If you are reaching out by email, know that your subject line is critical. Keep it short and simple. When vendors email you, what subject lines make you want to open the email? You should also remember to change your subject line depending on the outlet you pitch.
- Get to the point. Keeping your pitch concise is just as important as your subject line. Talk (and email) in bullet points. Ensure the most important information is first. Journalists don’t want to search a page-long email trying to understand your pitch.
- Give a teaser. Offer a short teaser pitch to gain interest. In the teaser pitch, ask a question that reporters can quickly respond with “yes” or “no” to spark their interest.
While it may never be a good time to pitch a journalist, these six tips can help you know best practices for pitching to make journalists’ lives easier and gain better results.
If you still struggle, consider hiring a PR firm to connect with and pitch reporters for you. In many cases, they already have a relationship with a reporter and know the best times to secure an interview and story. Have media coverage? Download our e-book Maximizing Your Public Relations Investment, a guide that helps remarket your PR to ensure maximum ROI.
Marjorie Comer is an award-winning PR professional. She graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Marjorie has worked for Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Follow her on Twitter @Marjorie_Comer. Learn more about Marjorie Comer.
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