In this post, we’ll go over a few things you can do with your media pitches to make journalists and editors love them.
What journalists want in a story pitch
1. Sent to the right person
Journalists and editors love it when your story pitch is aligned with the beat they’re assigned to. A PR newbie mistake is sending out a pitch to any reporter they can find, or all 26 reporters at the target magazine.
Either go to their website, or pick up an actual magazine and flip through the pages to see which journalist has written a story similar to one that you want to pitch. Do they cover entrepreneurs who are role models? How to solve a business problem? Companies that “do good”? Product reviews? News?
To compile a good mailing list, take note of what topics each media professional writes about. My team recently tested their media lists and while there were a few errors (wrong email address), it was a worthwhile purchase as it saved us hours and hours of research time and very quickly resulted in media stories coming up for a client in People Magazine and Woman’s Day.
2. Compelling subject line
Your email subject line can make or break your story pitch. If it’s unclear, confusing, or boring, the journalist won’t even open your email. While clients or companies can’t always claim to have the “world’s first” of anything, identifying what’s unique in your offering, or how a certain market will benefit from your product or service and distilling it to one sentence can be great for clarifying your overall key message.
Try using a question they may be intrigued to read the answer to, or “great story on xyz” referencing specifically a story they wrote in the past.
Examples: “How should you spend your first marketing dollar? ” or “Who is benefiting from the postal strike?”
Like anything, you’ll have to test to see what works. One of my team members recently reached out to a reporter for Forbes on Twitter first, and then sent an email with the casual headline: “Some ideas for you”
In the email itself, she simply asked if he was open to hearing about two technology companies we worked with, and described them with one sentence each. Total length of email = 5 sentences including the thank you line.
His reply was this:
“Honestly neither are interesting to me immediately, but I’ll be damned if this is not the best most honest pitch I’ve seen since I started working at Forbes. I’m sorry we can’t work together right now.”
The lesson is this: Don’t be discouraged by reporters saying no. Even if you have a good story to tell, relationship building takes time, and “no” usually just means “not right now.” You can bet next time the reporter gets an email from Jackie, he’ll be opening it up.
3. Have quotable quotes or statistics
Reporters like to round out business stories with a neutral third-party – industry analysts or industry experts. Having statistics that support your business model, target market or validate your product add interest and save journalists additional research they may have to do for a good interviewee. Make their job easier!
Quotes also give you the opportunity to present opinions, observations, or assertions rather than just facts.
If you’re a small business owner, you can also use customer testimonials to show their experience of your company or product. Just make sure to get permission to quote your customer and if possible have their contact details – the journalist may want to interview them further.
And finally, don’t make the journalist work hard to find you. Your name, telephone number, and email address are a given. Why not add your company website URL, Twitter handle, and your business Facebook page?
Putting these elements in your media pitches will help you come across as a valuable resource for journalists and you’ll soon be a media favorite.
Which of these elements was new to you? Did I miss anything?