Five Tips for Pitching like a Pro
Media pitching can be a grueling part of the PR business. Sometimes it feels like you’re pedaling ideas that no one cares about and it seems like you’re throwing ideas out into the void with no feedback and no luck. However, with a little creativity and a lot of strategy you can increase your rate of success when it comes to pitching stories and products. Here are five core tips that have brought us and our clients success over the years.
1. Research & Relationships
Unfortunately, databases of reporters and their contact information are often woefully inaccurate. As such, it’s best to use such databases only as a last resort to pull contact information. This means that a lot more research will be necessary. Check on Google, Twitter, top outlets’ websites, etc. to find out which reporters have recently written on or tweeted about topics relevant to you. Further, when you find out who these reporters are, build your relationship with them. Your engagements shouldn’t only occur when you need something. By liking their social content and responding positively to stories they’ve written, or by taking them to coffee, they’ll be more likely to respond to your email when you need them to.
Don’t let all that research go to waste! Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the reporters you’re going to reach out to, you’ll know the tone, content and audience of their work. Speak their language by forming your pitch to suit their style and creative niche. Consider commenting on their recent work or comparing your pitch to a topic they enjoy, another article they’ve written or a story they have covered.
3. Be Brief
Reporters are strapped for time and they’ll be much more likely to read your email if it’s concise and free of any extraneous detail. Try to keep them around 100 words or less. Unless the client is insistent on formalities, don’t get caught up in titles and technicalities, they’ll only distract from the point: you have solid, valuable information that your contact would be remiss to pass up.
4. Don’t Add Attachments
Attachments increase the likelihood that your email will be sent to spam. Even if it does make it to the inbox, people are (for good reason) hesitant to open attachments from strangers and they’ll likely disregard your email completely.
5. Spice Up Your Subject Lines
The subject line of your email is the first hurdle — if your subject line doesn’t motivate the reporter to open the email, it doesn’t matter how good the pitch inside is. Treat them like magazine headlines by including numbers, how-to’s, questions and other eye-catching phrases. Subject lines should be relevant to the topic at hand but they don’t need to be hyper-informative, your email will provide context.
With all these tips in mind, it’s also helpful to change your mindset when it comes to pitching: you are providing reporters a service by saving them time and connecting them with relevant information and important contacts. Don’t feel like you have to grovel or feel guilty.
So, get out there and research, write, pitch, repeat!