Tips for wooing journalists with topics and formats they favor

Form follows function, but with digital content malleable to both text and visual conveyances, delivery options abound. The trick lies in familiarizing yourself with their beats and preferences.

The average writer receives anywhere from a dozen to three dozen email pitches per day, and during holidays those numbers soar even higher.

Yet only a small fraction of those pitches contain the elements that journalists want to turn into a story.

Which raises the question, “What type of content should digital PR pros be pitching?”

We sought to find a way to close this gap by surveying 500-plus journalists, editors, and online writers to uncover what types of content they want to see in their inbox.

When reading a pitch, writers want to see more than a compelling thought or finding; they want the image of a complete, compelling story.

Make sure that what you’re offering connects to the big-picture themes they cover, and as a bonus, outline potential story ideas in your pitch. This will show the value of what you’re offering for their readers.

Listicles and videos are also popular among online publishers. Both easily digested formats have increased in popularity, and they offer unique opportunities to frame in your pitch. Why not rank your findings in listicle form when pitching a related writer? When a journalist can visualize what you’re offering as a story, your chances of getting coverage increase.

Another crucial element to closing the pitch gap is understanding how many words a journalist dedicates to a topic. That helps you to know how best to present your pitch.

For example, say you’re pitching a personal finance writer and you know their articles average 900 words; you might consider framing your pitch around a bigger trend or story in personal finance, rather than the specific elements you’re pitching.

Seeing how your content fits into a larger story will make them more likely to include it in their coverage. On the other hand, if you’re pitching journalists, who lean toward lower word counts (lifestyle writers, for example), consider framing your offering as a complete story.

Now that we know how publishers are covering topics, we can look at what is most beneficial in their inbox. The most crucial element is relevance. Beyond that, writers also emphasize the importance of exclusive research and trustworthy methodologies.

Having a scoop is an idea nearly as old as journalism itself. With so many media outlets today, being the first to cover a story is more important than ever. That’s why it’s crucial to highlight the exclusive nature of your content.

Do you have new data, an expert quote on an already trending topic, or content that shows there’s more to accepted stories than meets the eye? If yes, make sure the journalist knows they’d be the first to publish the story.

When PR pros take time to pitch writers the content they want in the way they want it presented, everyone wins. Not only does a journalist have a unique story to attract readers, but you secure coverage for your client and become a source for future stories.

Erin Ovadal is a media relations supervisor at Fractl.

 

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