Welcome to the wild west of media relations; landing the perfect pitch. A journalist’s inbox is a competitive place and as such, it is important for PRs to understand how they can make their pitches stand out.
PRs will be fighting a losing battle if their pitches are not approached with both strategy and creativity – and it is in finding the balance between the two that will ensure a pitch has value, yet still inspires.
So, how does a PR get their pitch noticed by their target journalists? It’s important to nail the basics, and here is where you should start:
1. Be Specific
Journalists are often time-poor so finding a happy balance for pitches that both get to the meaty bit, while still being friendly yet professional is important. Keep your pitches succinct with only the essential narrative needed to set the scene. While it is essential to give a journalist what they need to land a commission, they can do without your brand’s life story, so get to the point quickly.
Requests from journalists are often very specific, sometimes painfully so down to the structure or subject line they want a pitch received under – but as a PR, you should relish in the specificity. If a request requests a certain level of detail, then make sure you deliver it. When pitching for specific features, keep it relevant and in line with the request.
2. Keep It Relevant
Take time to make sure your pitch is going to a journalist or publication that covers your topic or niche. If they don’t cover it, or perhaps it is even something they have recently written about, you could be wasting your time. Make the effort to do your research and keep your pitches relevant to the media you’re pitching.
If a journalist has covered a similar topic before, don’t take it as a sign of defeat before even hitting send on your pitch. Think about how to rework your pitch to embrace a more unique angle, or ensure you are adding insight to the topic to allow you to piggyback on their previous article. It is fine to refer to previous work the journalist has written in your pitch if it bears relevance to your topic.
Recognising a journalists past work, or showing interest in their regular publications, niches or beats shows that as a PR, you are willing to go the extra mile to find a journalist that is a good fit for your story.
3. What’s The Hook?
So you’ve nailed down your list of key journalists, and know exactly what it is you want to pitch to them, but what’s the hook?
Journalists will receive hundreds of emails a day, and most will end up discarded. Some of the time, this is because they lack a clear and defined hook.
PR’s should pause before sending out pitches, taking time to address the subject line and opening paragraph to ensure that the content they’ve produced might actually pique a writers attention. If you find yourself yawning your way through your own opening line, it probably isn’t a strong enough hook to engage your intended recipients either.
4. Get Your Email Opened
Subject lines are critical in all forms of marketing, and in PR, it is no different.
The rule of thumb for subject lines is summing up your pitch in five-to-ten words or less. If you can’t summarise your email into a punchy phrase or statement that can be digested at a glance, and drives intrigue, action or anticipation, it’s likely your email will end up unread, or at worst, deleted altogether.
5. Tailor Your Pitch
Pitching to your target journalist is one thing, but it is imperative not to forget the end reader. Get to grips with the publication they are writing for and how they structure their content, and make sure your pitch is tailored to suit the demographics of their readership too.
6. Make It Newsworthy
It is important to remember, that not all brand developments are news. And not all news is newsworthy. But it is in the storytelling and inserting of a human angle that these not-so-newsworthy subjects, can sometimes find traction with the media in the hands of the right PR professional. Empower your PR team to think outside the box and take the road-less-travelled with trickier topics to land.
7. Do Your Due Diligence
It is good practice to come prepared to any pitch. Good PR’s will work with their clients to ensure they have all the relevant information, have crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s before a pitch leaves their inbox.
A PR’s worst nightmare might just be a slew of left-of-field questions that they may not be prepared or empowered to answer on behalf of a client, so it is the job of a good PR to ensure they are fully briefed and have done their due diligence with any information or development they might be pitching. Brands should trust their PRs to know how a particular piece of news will land with the media, and set their expectations accordingly.
8. Be Your Own Editor
Journalists are often rushed off their feet, we get it, often PRs are too – but attention to detail is an essential when it comes to building solid relationships and securing coverage.
To have a chance at cutting through with your pitch, above all else, it is essential to nail the basics. Ask yourself:
- Am I contacting them in the requested medium? Most journalists prefer email first.
- Have you addressed your email to the right person? Using their preferred name? Spelt right?
- Have you run a spell check to avoid any potentially risky typos?
- Have you copy and pasted in content, links, images and checked for errors?
- Are your CC’s and BCC’s safe and correct?
- Are your in-body pictures formatted correctly?
- And everybody’s favourite… have you attached that pesky document before hitting send?
Reviewing your pitch is sometimes only half the battle in ensuring a seamless pitching experience. Why not try sending yourself a ‘test’ pitch first to make sure your recipient is receiving your email in the way it was intended.
A good pitch will not always land coverage, but getting your pitch noticed by journalists can do much more for a brand than just get them column inches or social media content.
PR is as much about securing that prized consumer coverage as it is about building brand awareness with powerful and influential advocates; that’s journalists to you and me.
Brands need journalists to want to write about them, and it is in entrusting PRs to fuel this desire, that brands will start to see pitches turn into PR results. But to get there, PRs must first nail their approach to pitching, and then let their creativity speak for itself.
Looking for support with media relations? Contact our PR team: [email protected]