PR essentials: five ways to perfect your pitch
Pitching is a key skill for any PR professional, so it’s crucial to get it right. You could have the best story to offer, but it’s no good if you can’t capture a journalist’s interest in the first place.
So what can be done to ensure your pitch stands out among the hundreds that journalists receive on a daily basis?
Do the prep work
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t read the publication they’re aiming to secure. The first thing you should check is whether they cover the topic you’re pitching. Take the time to read recent articles, particularly ones written by the specific reporter you’re targeting – and make sure your pitch provides a new perspective or point of view. If you can throw in a reference to a recent article of theirs you enjoyed reading, they’ll know you’ve done your research and it helps create a rapport. This leads on to my next point.
Don’t send out a blanket release to 100 contacts. Tailor it to the journalist and make it obvious you’ve picked them for a reason – perhaps you’ve seen they have a particular interest in the subject matter you’re pitching, or they mentioned on Twitter that they’d like to cover this area more. They’ll be more inclined to work with you if you don’t make them feel like one of hundreds you’ve contacted with a generic pitch.
Subject lines matter
The initial challenge when it comes to composing the pitch itself is getting a journalist to open your email in the first place. This is where subject lines are important. They must be short and to the point, yet informative. This might be a tough ask but if you nail it, you’ll pique the journalist’s interest. It also makes following up easier: an eye-catching subject line makes it much more likely that your particular email will be remembered.
Stay trim and focused. It’s important to remember that not everyone shares your intricate knowledge of the topic and avoid launching into a jargon-heavy spiel the journalist might not understand or find enticing. Often reporters are looking to learn more about a particular topic so they can explain it to their readers. Journalists therefore value pitches that offer a clear, concise view of a topic – no fluff.
Timing is everything
Be timely. Don’t pitch commentary on a story that came out last week; you’re too late. Journalists move quickly and that means you must too. It’s also worth considering the timing of the reporter you’re pitching to – is it the best time of day to contact them? Are they on holiday? At an event? Checking their social media activity is often a great way to confirm if they’re available and open to pitches.
Should you pick the perfect moment and receive a positive response, be ready to reply at speed. If you lose momentum, you risk losing the story and — with most journalists on a tight deadline — it’s important you commit to giving them something quickly and efficiently. If you’re reliable, they’ll keep coming back for more!
Bonus tip: Call them!
Finally, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and follow up on your email verbally. Yes, it can be tricky to get reporters on the phone nowadays, but with so many pitches flooding into their inboxes and strict deadlines looming, they won’t necessarily have time to read or even see your email. Of course, your snappy subject line will increase the chances of breaking through, but a carefully timed call to provide a short overview can help the reporter get to grips with your proposal, allowing them to make an informed decision, ideally in your favour.
If you’re interested in more information about how we craft the perfect pitch, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lauren Jones, Senior Account Executive