Every journalist receives an obscene number of emails. Some are from public relations agencies and professionals, others are from marketers, entrepreneurs, and concerned readers. It’s no wonder that so many of them have low pick-up and response rates.
You may have an interesting story, but if your pitch is to the wrong reporter at the wrong time, you won’t get coverage. Here are just a few tips on how to correctly pitch a story that will garner both visibility and coverage.
1. Find the Right Reporter
Pitching a story to a reporter that is outside their beat, or coverage area, is a waste of yours and their time. Additionally, you demonstrated to the journalist that you didn’t research them. You have no idea what topics they cover, nor do you understand their readers’ media consumption habits. You offered them nothing of value, meaning you may have burned a bridge for a future, more relevant story.
2. Customize Your Pitch
Though you may be reaching out to multiple reporters for one story, it’s important to let each one know exactly why you choose them to cover it. Mention similar stories they covered in the past and why their readers will be interested in what you are offering. This will change for each journalist, so never copy and paste your media pitch. Customize it every time you hit send.
Another tip for customizing your pitch is to customize the length. Depending on the reporter to whom you’re pitching, you’ll want to either keep it short and sweet or long enough to provide adequate details. Use your best judgment.
3. Get to the Point
Generally, reporters will skim your pitch, attempting to get to your angle as quickly as possible. Make it easier on them by stating your purpose at the beginning. This way, the journalist knows quickly what you are offering and whether or not it is in line with their reporting beat and style.
4. Ditch the Superlatives
Is your story the most exciting thing to happen in the reporter’s lifetime? Doubtful. Leave the superlatives — such as greatest, amazing, ultimate, etc. — out of your pitch. They lack sincerity, and the reporter will detect the sales-y tone of your message.
Rather than using filler words that are so over-used they’ve lost their meaning, describe what makes your story interesting. Sure, it may not be the most wonderful thing to ever hit the writer’s inbox, but it likely has some newsworthy aspect, or you shouldn’t be pitching it.
5. Be Helpful
Public relations campaigns don’t end with your media pitch. You should consistently be building lasting relationships with a wide variety of media professionals. These relationships must be a two-way street.
Offer help when you can, even if you or your client doesn’t personally benefit. And, above all, always treat journalists like humans, and if they don’t pick up your story, move on to the next reporter.