PR pros, make sure your pitch passes the 5-second test

Your solicitation must be concise and pithy, or journalists will move on.


Tick, tick, tick. Your pitch has to land immediately.

Generally, it takes about five seconds for a journalist to skim your story idea.

As any good real estate agent knows, location is everything: Even the most beautiful homes won’t sell if the neighborhood isn’t ideal.

Location is just as important in PR pitches. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how great your story is; if you don’t have the right info in the right location, then your journalist is going to pass.

Let’s look at the most valuable parcels of real estate in your email pitch:

1. Your subject line should grab attention with a flash. It should stand out in a crowded inbox, leaving journalists unable to resist opening your email. Still, never promise more than you can deliver. If your subject line says, “Pop icon to endorse new diet trend,” then your email had better include an iconic pop star. Never bait and switch.

2. Your customized intro should be warm, friendly and not overly formal. It should make the journalist want to stay and keep reading. Use this space to show the journalist you know who they are, what they do and the stories that are relevant to them.

3. Your compelling story idea comes next. Showcase your compelling angle front and center, rather than bogging down this space with background info. Select your words carefully. Use bullet points to simplify your idea.

4. Your call to action is your crucial conclusion. Most pitches do not invite journalists to act, and this can make all the difference in whether you get a response.

A version of this post first appeared on PRsay.

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