Even in a quickly changing landscape, the good old-fashioned PR pitch
remains one of the best ways to get a reporter’s attention. They don’t always succeed, though, and sometimes they end up in the trash.
That’s why it’s important to take note when you get it right. The elusive “great pitch” is hard to find. When you nail it, it satisfies a creative addiction every PR pro lives to feed, but the rush of the moment can make it hard to remember what you did. Common sense is easy to forget in the heat of the moment, so here are some basics to help yours stand out in someone’s inbox.
Research the writer or editor, what he or she covers, and who the audience is. Align your topic or idea with the journalist’s beat. This seems like common sense, but time and again, jumping the gun with a writer happens. In the heat of pitching days, in the black holes of research, this mistake is the cause of those belly-dropping, gut-wrenching, dry mouth moments we’ve all experienced at least once when we realized we were a little too quick in our approach.
In the rules of journalism
, there are a few things that constitute “news” and timeliness is at the top of the list
. Always focus on why the audience should care now
. Whether your pitch is designed around a current trend, a major headline, or an editorial calendar, you must say why “the when” matters to the reader.
Last month, Huffington Post
small-business reporter Alexis Kleinman stated long emails are “The One Email Successful People Never Send
From subject line to signature, the email should say just enough to get the point across. Tell them why they should care in the first couple of sentences. Be clear and to the point. If you haven’t emailed the person before, you don’t have to divulge every detail; simply encourage a conversation. Saying more with less is a constant challenge for PR pros. Learn to love the challenge.
Embed links to make it easy
Oh, the joys of the “World Wide Interweb
.” Once a brief pitch sticks, a journalist won’t have to expend additional effort to follow the story. A little extra footwork goes a long way. For example, if I were trying to express to a reporter why The Abbi Agency
is one of the best places to work in northern Nevada, I would include a brief sentence explaining why to care and embed a link directly to the business so the reporter can easily learn more about the agency beyond my email.
Find a connection, and be real
A personal anecdote or recognition can be a great way to start a conversation or make a real connection, but only if it’s genuine. If you’re stretching the truth on some tiny detail about someone’s life in order to gain their attention, it’s just plain creepy and unauthentic. They’ll sniff you out, and it will do more damage than good.
[RELATED: Find out how to craft the perfect pitch at our April PR & Media Relations event in NYC.]
A reporter from Business Insider
has been generous enough to write several pieces telling us why we fail when sending emails in her pieces: “10 Dead-Honest Reasons Reporters Delete Your Emails
” and “Dear PR Lady: Here’s Why I Didn’t Open Any Of Your 3 Email Pitches (Although I Wish I Had)
.” Thank you, Alyson Shontell
, for the insights.
Brooke Rose is an account executive at The Abbi Agency (@theabbiagency). Follow her on Twitter, and read more of her work on the agency's blog, where a version of this story originally appeared.