The practice of pitching stories to journalists has evolved quite a bit since I first started working in public relations over two decades ago. Even so, crafting an effective pitch remains one of the most crucial media relations skills you can develop.
Want to become a media pitching pro in 2022? You can do it—and I’m here to help.
Debunking Common Misconceptions About Pitching the Media
Before reviewing the basic elements of a media pitch, let’s debunk a couple of common misconceptions about pitching.
Misconception #1: My company’s successes are our most newsworthy stories.
Your successes are certainly worth celebrating, but without the right angle, they aren’t always newsworthy.
Think about the framing of your pitch. How will it grab the attention of the journalist—and more importantly, the publication’s audience? Authenticity goes a long way in PR. Believe it or not, some of the best stories aren’t about companies’ successes, but about the missteps and lessons learned along the way.
Misconception #2: The best way to engage a journalist is with a page-long press release.
Once the gold-standard approach, emailing journalists with page-long press releases is no longer the only option—or even the best one.
There are plenty of online channels to leverage in addition to email. For instance, you can pitch journalists on Twitter or Instagram by DMing them with a clever, one-sentence message. However It’s important to build a relationship first. Start by following specific journalists on social media and actively (and authentically) engaging with their content.
The Anatomy of a Stellar PR Pitch
So, what does it take to craft the perfect pitch? If you’re writing an email, you’ll want to include these elements. This approach can be adjusted as needed for social media pitches.
- Subject line. The subject line is where you make your first impression. It’s your chance to grab the journalist’s attention. A generic subject line like “Media Pitch” or “Company XYZ’s news” won’t cut it. Who would feel inspired to open that email?
- The pitch itself. Skip the introduction of who you are, and get right into the story you’re pitching. Your goal is to intrigue the journalist with a pithy overview of your proposed story. Be sure to personalize your message so that it speaks directly to the journalist you’re addressing.
- Your next steps. Once you’ve introduced your story, offer the journalist support to bring it to life. Can they schedule an interview with the CEO of your company? What media assets can you provide to make their job easier (photos, video, client/end user interviews)? Consider highlighting key words or phrases to make this information easily scannable.
- Gratitude for their time. I close all my pitches the same way, with a simple, “I appreciate your time and review and look forward to hearing from you.” Let the journalist know that you’re grateful for their consideration. Wait a week and do one (and only one) follow-up message.
Our media database software partner, MuckRack, sends out a humorous reminder in its monthly blog that captures reporters’ tweets about the latest bad pitches they received. For what not to do, click HERE.
Pitching stories effectively is critical to your PR efforts. With these elements in place, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pitching pro. If you need extra support meeting your PR goals, get in touch, and I’d be happy to chat with you!