So you’ve got an important pitch that needs some exposure. You’ve got the story and you’re ready to send it off to every contact on your media list and get that attention. Press send, right?? Think about it form the journalists point of view: they're most likely getting hundreds of pitches from PR professionals everyday, all vying for that same precious editorial space as you. So how do you make sure that your story is the story they run with? How do you make your pitch stand out?
It all starts with Subject line
First thing’s first: write a killer subject line and grab that attention. No one will be excited by a subject line that contains anything remotely like “FWD: HEY: HEY” or “READ THIS!”. Emails with those subject lines will probably end up in the spam folder before anyone ever lays eyes on them. Write something that will capture the attention and spark the interest of a busy journalist scrolling through their over-stuffed inbox. Keep it to about 6-10 words and don’t be afraid to be quirky or humorous.
While not technically pitching to journalists per se, website growth specialists, SUMO recently shared the data on which of their own email subject lines have had the greatest open rate success. Their top performing subject line, “I was right - and that’s not good for you” boasts an amazing open rate of 69%. That’s not bad at all! You want that kind of success rate with your pitches too and your subject lines are the first place to start.
Cut the fluff
Who’s got the time or desire to read an essay-long email in the middle of the day, especially when it comes from an unknown source who has even misspelled your name? No one. That’s who. If your pitch has passed the subject line test and it’s been opened by a journalist, don’t lose their attention with overly-fluffy and wordy content. Keep things concise and only include the most important information. Who, what, when, and where? Every word should have value and meaning and sell your concept, and if it doesn’t- cut it out. Have someone read through and critique your pitch before you send it.
Break up the visual monotony of paragraphs of text with some relevant images. Take it a step further and use video! But whatever you do, don’t attach hefty files to the email that will take millennia to download. Optimize images for email or better yet, use a PR system like Announce It that will let you upload files to a base server and display images and video as linked media within the email without actually attaching anything.
Know who you’re pitching to
You want your story to get the most coverage possible, right? The temptation is there to blast it out to every contact on your media list. But be warned: this is a sure-fire way to lose some of those contacts forever. Choose the relevant contacts who would actually be interested in covering your story. Don’t send your story about a restaurant opening to the editor of a car publication… Also, personalise your email. Use their first name. Show that you know a little about the publication that they write for. Personalising in this way can be the difference between your pitch ending up at the top of the pile or the bottom of the trash.
Tell them why it matters
No one will care about your story as much as you do (except maybe your client…). Your job is to make people care! Why should they cover your story? Why is this the most exciting thing to happen in years? Why is it completely relevant to their publication and totally important to their readers? Sell, sell, sell!
So you’ve followed the above advice from start to finish and you’ve crafted the most amazing pitch, eloquently written and perfectly succinct. Make no mistake, you’ve got a great chance of getting noticed! But if you want to push things even further then you need to get to know the people who you’re pitching to every day. Develop those relationships. Introduce yourself at networking events, be active on social media and increase your online presence in general. Be the person who is known for their good work in the industry. Be the person who offers quality, socially-relevant content and people will be hanging on your every word. Reputation ultimately matters.