How to Pitch like a Pro
With a simple Google search, any PR professional can find dozens of listicles, recommendations and tactics on how to successfully pitch a story to the media. So, why do most editors still say ALL the pitches they receive are bad, not useful, or an embarrassing display of awkward transitions? If you’re having a difficult time earning coverage for yourself, a client or a brand, it’s time to buckle down and commit to the following five core principals of pitching. If you do, you’ll improve your chances of earning the respect, attention and, most importantly, interest from reporters.
- Know your audience. We all know each reporter covers a different topic or “beat.” So, doesn’t it make sense to read their previous stories for an indication of whether they might be the right person to cover your story? Yes. The answer is yes. Give your story a chance to be heard by taking the necessary time to find the right people to pitch. And when you do, try incorporating a ready-to-use quote or stat to make things easier for the reporter, while proving you’re a valuable source.
- Pitch like a human. This is what separates us PR professionals from the animals…I mean robots. Machines can blast generic emails to media lists, but you? You’re better than that. Your pitch needs to be personalized to individual editors and publications as if…here me out…it didn’t come from an automated platform.
- Less is more. It’s time to parlay Marie Kondo’s method into your pitch writing. De-clutter your pitches and aim for one to two paragraphs. Be short, straight forward, and show value. Writers, editors and producers are generally so busy that the less information they must read, the better the chances that they’ll read it. Make sure to answer these two questions: What is exciting about this story, and how is it relevant to the readers of this publication?
- Do NOT attach. If you’re sending pitches with attachments and wondering why you hear crickets afterwards, it’s probably because your pitch ended up deep within the confines of a junk or spam folder. However, reporters love visuals, so be sure to provide multimedia elements by including a link to view or download them.
- For Pete’s sake, pick up the phone. Following up on a media pitch is as important as sending it in the first place. When I first begun pitching, I made follow-up phone calls a priority and guess what happened? I was able to build more personal relationships with reporters who later became future core contacts for entirely different clients. Just make sure to start the call by asking if it’s an OK time to talk – this shows you understand deadlines and respect their time.
Follow these five principals and you’ll be pitching like a pro and building meaningful relationships in no time. Now repeat after me: “I shall not be flagged as spam once more,” and repeat.