I try to keep the following guidelines in mind as I now write my own pitch letters as well as review others.
How to begin?
The first sentence is absolutely the most important sentence in the entire pitch. It has to be like Renee Zellweger’s line in the movie Jerry Maguire when she says to Tom Cruise, “You had me at hello.” If you can’t captivate the reporter with your hello, you’re less likely to keep them interested to read on about your client.
Start with a question. Lead with a set of three current news trends related to your topic. Or begin with the newsworthy impact of a just-released study. Too often, I see pitches where PR professionals lead with the name of their client, their credentials and some announcement that the media relations executive thinks is important. Turn that pitch upside down and take the news and put it on top.
Survey results may be interesting, but what is the impact of those results? A client who makes a coveted spot on an important industry-ranking list is newsworthy—but only to the client. You need to turn that into news.