When you have information of value, pitching your ideas to journalists in the hope that they’ll produce an article from it can be a very effective PR tactic. The issue is, most journalists’ email inboxes are constantly inundated with content pitches, so you need to stand out from the crowd.
Everybody believes that their pitch is worthwhile and deserves coverage, but when journalists have so much to choose from, you need to convince them that your content really is worth their time. Here are 8 tips for writing the perfect pitch.
Email over a phone call
Unless the journalist has specifically requested for any pitches to be made via the phone, always find an email address to contact them through instead. Although a phone call is instantaneous and you may find it easier to plead your case in this manner, a call at an inconvenient time could shatter all chances of coverage, even if the pitch is something the journalist may have otherwise found interest in.
By sending an email pitch, the journalist can open and read it at a convenient time. It also removes the risk of poor phone signal or background noise impacting your pitch. Some journalists’ emails will be easy to find on company sites or within the author bio on their articles. If you’re still struggling to find the right details, check out our handy guide to Chrome extensions that can assist your email search.
Know who you’re pitching to
Some journalists are very particular about the types of content they cover, so it’s vital to ensure that your pitch is relevant to them. Do some digging into their previous articles to make an informed decision about whether your content is something they’re likely to be interested in.
If the journalist has already covered the same topic that you were hoping to pitch, don’t be discouraged! Try and think of a new angle to take the subject that could create a unique piece of content. Mention the previous coverage in your pitch and explain to the journalist why this new angle would be worth their while. Besides, if they’ve covered the topic previously, they’re likely to be interested in approaching it again from a new angle.
It’s also important to know the journalist’s audience. They write their content for their audience to enjoy, so if you can justify within your pitch why their audience would find your content of value, they may be more inclined to cover it.
Use a catchy subject line
The subject line is the first part of your pitch that a journalist will see, so it’s definitely an important aspect. If your subject line fails to draw the journalist in, you run the risk of them completely disregarding your email without even opening it.
One tactic is to ask a question, with the hope the journalist will be curious about the answer, leading them to open and read your pitch. You could also include a teaser; a quick snippet of interesting information to encourage them to open your email and find out more. For research-based content, placing a powerful statistic in the subject line can work wonders for enticing journalists to give your pitch a chance.
Include social proof
Social proof is a type of credibility; you need to prove to the journalist that you are qualified to be providing information on your topic. Any research sources you provide should be recent and credible. For agencies sending pitches on behalf of clients, include any relevant qualifications or awards obtained by the client, as well as any conferences they may have spoken at, to reassure the journalist that your pitch is coming from a credible source.
Have a clear objective
Only half of a good pitch is conveying your topic and angle clearly, it’s equally as important to express your objectives. Do you want the journalist to write an article based on your information, or perhaps just publish an article written by yourself? Disclose whether you’re looking for a backlink included in the content or not. Do you simply want a mention of your brand? Some journalists will have strict rules for what they will and won’t publish, so being clear on your objectives within the initial pitch can immediately inform them whether or not they wish to pursue it.
Don’t be promotional
Most journalists have little interest in promotional content, and will only publish content that holds real value to their readers. Focus on storytelling within your pitch, rather than a promotional standpoint; provide something of value to the journalist and they’ll be much more likely to bite!
Keep it short and sweet
If a journalist opens your pitch email and it consists of large paragraphs with an abundance of information, they’re likely to disregard it. As I mentioned earlier, their inboxes are often bursting, and they’re most likely on tight deadlines so can be deterred by a hefty pitch.
You need to ensure that you’ve got your main point across, without giving over too much information. End your pitch by encouraging the journalist to ask any questions or enquire for more information. If your pitch caught their attention then they most likely will!
Sending the pitch is only part of the process. If the journalist is interested, they’re likely to respond, either confirming their interest or asking further questions. Since they work to tight deadlines, a delayed response could be a dealbreaker. The perfect pitch is useless if your response time is poor.
Be ready to provide further information, quotes or imagery if it’s requested. Remember that you reached out to them, so you have the responsibility to be as helpful as you can if they choose to pursue your pitch. You may wish to work with this journalist again in the future, and how easy they deem you to work with will have a huge impact on whether or not further collaborations will be possible.