Every business benefits from media coverage — it all starts with a pitch.
When sent to the right people, a media pitch is a great way get a company press coverage. There are a lot of factors you have to get just right for a successful pitch well-delivered. Make your email stand out by simplifying it, doing your research, and making your story newsworthy. Once you organize a targeted list of media contacts, draft an email that’s easy-to-read with a conversational tone. Avoid industry jargon and complex vocabulary at all costs. Only use an email template as the backbone of the pitch. Remember, each and every email should be personalized to its intended media contact.
There’s an art to pitching. After spending a few years at public relations and marketing companies, here are a few ways I learned to bring email pitches to life:
- Do your research.
Do some stalking before you send them an email. Pitch smarter, not harder. Instead of blasting tons of journalists with cold emails, find a way to make their job easier by fitting your pitch into their editorial calendars. For example, if it’s Christmas time and you’re trying to sell a story about toys in the subject line relate it to an article they have posted the year before which had toys in it. Usually, around this time they write about Christmas wishlists or the hottest toys of the season.
Do some digging. First, figure out every outlet they contribute to. Glance over their articles, do they write about similar products or companies you’re pitching? Next, figure out what they are talking about on social media. Journalists have never been easier to follow. Use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get a feel for what they are like and how to best communicate with them. Don’t be shy to comment on their posts either, building a relationship with target journalists helps your company down the road!
2. Make it newsworthy.
Journalists are always looking for the next great story.
Although companies may go through a couple of big changes and partnerships a year, they don’t always correlate with trends and current events. See what’s currently trending and tie the pitch into it. This will help bring it some positive attention. I use Google Trends and trending items on Twitter and Facebook to help me come up with some ideas.
What’s trending on Facebook:
What’s trending on Twitter:
3. Keep the email short and sweet!
The subject line should be juicy and the receiver should be able to get the gist of your pitch by reading it. In the body of the email always remember less is more. Sorry to break it to you, but journalists don’t read pitches word for word. They have become masters of skimming. Only about 1-2 sentences will actually by absorbed and if they’re not interested in those couple of lines, it’s on to the next. Writing less text gives them more time to soak in what you’re presenting. Limit your pitch to 3 short paragraphs ranging from 2 to 3 sentences each.
In the first paragraph, give them a reason why they should care about your story. Give them some insider information and make them want to be involved in what’s going on.
Make a connection. The next paragraph should show them you’ve done your homework. Refer to previous articles they have written and highlight topics they are passionate about. Also, tell the journalist why you’ve specifically chosen them to break the story. Feel free to bring up titles of previous articles they’ve written.
The last couple of sentences should be a call to action. Tell the journalist what to do with the information. If they contribute to a couple outlets, indicate which outlet you would like to see the story breaking on. If you’re interested in all their platforms say that so. You can also use the last paragraph to suggest an interview, invite them to tour the facilities or give them a time and date to a press conference.
Tip: If you’re launching a product, offer to send them a sample! They love getting stuff and it’s so much easier for them to review it when they have actual experience with the product. If it’s a new menu item, have them stop by for a comped meal. Add this in the last paragraph (it’s a call to action). Score.
Once your email has been created, attach a full press kit for their convenience. I use Canva.com to make eye-catching kits that are simple are enjoyable for others to view. Also, make sure to include several high-resolution photos they can use in articles. Provide a press release if you have one too. The more information they have, the better! After you proofread, as you would with anything else, have another set of eyes review the pitch. I like to ask those proofreading my pitches to relay a couple of points they drew from the email. Do they understand the point you’re trying to get across? Is it newsworthy? If they were the journalist, would they understand the call to action?
Then, proofread it again.
Any little mistake can totally throw away your credibility. I highly recommend installing the Grammarly extension on Chrome for this. It has saved my life about a million times. It’s a 100% free grammar checker that not only reviews spelling errors but sentence structure and punctuation too.
And WHATEVER you do, make sure their names are correct! Even outlets spell the names of their own journalists incorrectly. Cross check their names via social media, Google and Cision.com (if you have access to it).
Tip: If you’re working on a spreadsheet, use the highlighter in black to fill cells after you email contacts. That way you don’t accidentally email the same person twice or worse… call them another name with a different email pitch.
Wow, I even had a mini-panic attack just writing that!
Have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned from pitching to media contacts? Share it in the comments below 🙂