A perfect pitch can make your company at the hearing, boost your reputation, and make people talk about your product. It leads to published pieces that hit the first lines in the search engine and attract more traffic to your website. If you are looking for recommendations on how to establish fruitful relationships with the media, our previous article covers 5 tips on how to work with journalists. Today, we discuss the next step in the process – the art of pitching.
As the pandemic changed the ways we pursue remote working and lack of personal communications, it likewise evolved the nature of PR. In 2022, our professional sphere has not fully recovered from the pervasive isolation and, to be honest, may never go back to how it used to be.
Face-to-face communication, networking, and live events tend to stay online even after restrictions are lifted. Thus, more than ever, PR professionals need to master the art of pitching and dialogue to get a journalist’s attention.
Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as universally perfect pitching. Since it assumes high personalisation and dependence on whatever is happening on the news, there cannot be an all-purpose script. But there can be a helpful approach to minimise rejection letters or ghosting from journalists.
Here are 5 tips to help you convey a message to journalists and publish your texts in the media.
1. A little homework never killed nobody
Remember, personalisation is the key to a successful pitch. You would not even imagine how many pitches are rejected simply because PR specialists do not do their research prior to hitting a “send” button.
Study the media and the journalist you are writing to. Read the stories they have published in recent weeks. What interests them? Which style are they using? Do not stop there. Look up journalists’ social media accounts (LinkedIn and Twitter) to better understand their beat and current preferences.
Pay attention to the timing and frequency of their publications – it will help you understand if and when they would cover your story.
2. Concise and catchy is the way to go
There are nearly 6 PR professionals for every journalist, which means the latter receives at least 20-30 pitches on a daily basis. Make your pitch visible and worth opening and reading. It is not a rule, but most journalists prefer pitches under 200 words. Yes, the length will vary depending on the type of pitch and idea you are crafting. But our decade of experience in PR tells us that the ideal size for a pitch is around 150 words, and for a speaker introduction, it revolves around 400 words.
While working on a pitch, remember to add a clear call-to-action. We need to be explicit about what we want to be done with the information.
3. Work on your subject line
The subject line is a hook to catch a long desired fish. It is the first thing a journalist sees receiving your email. Would you click on a writing piece with a dull and unimpressive premise? Probably not. Do not assume the journalist will.
The subject line should intrigue and lead to your key message. Try a word play here; a little creativity won’t hurt (but don’t overdo it). Remember, headlines are 99.9% of our success, and we will talk about this essential tool in the following article, so stay tuned.
4. Doublechecking and proofreading are your new best friends
What can be a more triggering message than “Hi [blank]!” Unfortunately, it can happen to the best of us. And one of the easiest ways to get into #PRfails on Twitter is to send a pitch to the wrong person with the wrong name in the greeting.
Check the possible grammar mistakes or typos. A language is a communication tool for journalists, and a poorly written pitch will only trigger them to place your email in the trash folder or mark it as spam. Remember to check the dialect a journalist uses and align your message accordingly. For instance, if you contact a British media outlet, use the proper spelling, and respect the Oxford comma for American journalists out there.
5. Utilise the power of follow-ups
One might say it is imposing, but almost 90% of journalists are totally OK with getting follow-ups within one week of the initial pitch. Treat your follow-up as an opportunity to grab the attention you did not capture the first time. Find another catchy detail about your speaker that might interest a journalist. Also, do not overestimate the power of newsjacking. Monitor the news and try to integrate your message into the agenda.
Last but not least, be nice and thank a reporter once the article is out. It is a simple step to ensure you have carte blanche to cooperate in the future.
Mary Poliakova, Co-founder and COO of Drofa Comms.