The average journalist receives hundreds of pitches every day, all the while facing constant deadlines. Safe to say, the odds of getting through to a writer aren’t generally in your favor. Most of them are just too darn busy, but there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting their attention. Below are nine best practices to add to your pitching repertoire:
Come up with something actually interesting
First and foremost, your story should be both interesting and relevant to the reporter or publication you’re pitching. Good stories include brand-new product announcements, big-name business wins with customers who are willing to go on record, funding acquisitions and new industry data and insights.
Things you typically shouldn’t pitch are incremental product updates, new hires and offices, your app that’s essentially a clone of Gmail/Facebook/Snapchat, and/or anything that’s self-promotional or salesy.
Email first, call if you must
Long gone are the days of Rolodexes. Join 2016 and stick to email for most of your pitches. Its non-intrusive and provides a good record and reference point for conversations. Plus, most journalists hate calls. Don’t believe me? Read here, here and here. And definitely don’t call their private mobile numbers that you dug up from the internet if you don’t have a prior relationship. That’s just creepy.
Of course, there are certain circumstances when a phone call is required - for instance, an interview with your client - but most of the time calls aren’t necessary.
Keep your pitch short and to the point
Don’t send journalists your full press release or life story - they most likely won’t have time to read it. Send them a very quick intro sentence about your story, followed by a few key bullet points and call to action.
A few sentences will make a bigger impact than a long wall of text. It’s okay to be terse - if reporters need more information, they’ll ask.
Personalize your pitch
Always include the reporter’s name in your pitch and do not misspell it - that’s almost the worst thing you can do. Just the first name is fine, and also include the name of the publication somewhere.
If you and the reporter have something in common, feel free to bring it up in your introduction, but be honest and sincere about it.
The key here is to be personable - don’t just blast an email to 1,000 random journalists. They hate that.
Use teh proper grammarz
This is PR 101. Follow it or suffer potentially embarrassing consequences (like a call out on Twitter).
Use links, not attachments
Journalists don’t typically like to open attachments they haven’t requested, since attachments can contain malware and other viruses. If you need to send an external source or media with your initial pitch, use a link to avoid looking suspicious.
Pitch at the right time
Traditionally, most PR professionals are told to pitch journalists in the wee hours of the morning and early on in the week. But that’s also the time when journalists’ email inboxes become flooded. Why not try pitching during off-hours when you can have their full attention?
Be flexible and prepared
When a journalist responds to you, don’t expect them to publish your exact story. They may be interested in something completely different, so be prepared and open to other ideas as long as they aren’t completely off topic.
Be timely in your responses and prepared to send any additional information or assets that are requested. Don’t wait two days to get back to a journalist, as they’re most likely on a strict deadline. Help them help you.