Pitching Like a Pro: 5 Tips to Getting Your Content Published
Every day, media gatekeepers are flooded with email pitches promising a story that will be a hit with their audience. While some of these emails may capture their attention, others just get lost in the noise.
Not only are PR and marketing professionals tasked with dodging spam filters to ensure their pitches are seen, they also have to compete with the droves of other publicists and freelance writers who are hoping to have their content viewed by the same audiences.
Whether you’re pitching to large media outlets or smaller online publications and blogs, following these proven strategies to writing an effective pitch email will help you grab the attention of your media contacts.
Start with a Strong Subject Line
Subject lines are the first, and sometimes only, portion of an email that a media contact will read before determining whether your story is viable for their outlet.
While some journalists prefer a straightforward subject line that immediately indicates that you’re pitching a story, others are more likely to open an email pitch with a creative, out-of-the box subject line.
Unfortunately, you won’t always know which approach to take before you send your email. However, as you begin to build a rapport with certain editors and reporters, you’ll learn their preferences. If you’re unsure what an editor prefers, check to see if any of your colleagues have had a pitch accepted by the same publication so you can use their subject line as a template.
Contently published a helpful guide to crafting subject lines for pitch emails that features advice from reporters and editors from popular publications. Eric Sullivan, features editor at Esquire, recommends using attention-grabbing and lively language while being as concise as possible. However, Sullivan said what’s most important is showcasing why the story is essential to the publication.
“At the end of the day, you should think about what makes the story you’re pitching so unique and essential, and focus on that,” Sullivan said.
Do Your Research
Prior to pitching a story, it is necessary to gain a clear understanding about the type of content an outlet produces. Familiarizing yourself with the stories they cover will help ensure what you’re pitching is a good fit while allowing you to determine who your best point of contact will be. This will help you establish rapport and show you’re not sending a mass email.
Another way to personalize your pitch, and highlight that you’ve done your research, is including a statement demonstrating that you’re familiar with the journalist’s previous work.
For example, “I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories on [SECTION TOPIC], and I thought your most recent article on [BLANK] was particularly insightful. This story on [PITCH] may also interest your readers.”
Even if you’re pitching the same story to numerous outlets, each email you send should be unique. If your story is the right fit for a publication, your email needs to outline exactly why that is.
Offer an Exclusive
It is widely understood that PR professionals and marketers need to get their client’s news out to as many people as possible, leading them to pitch the same announcement to multiple media outlets. However, this may prevent some outlets from running your story— as they prefer to have unique content.
While this preference is often a hurdle for marketers to overcome, when possible you can use it to your advantage by offering the story as an exclusive to your most important contact first. When you offer an exclusive to a reporter, be sure to set clear expectations and give them a timeline to accept. If they don’t respond by that time, then open up the story to other media outlets.
When you’re seeking coverage from a variety of outlets, you may not be able to give a reporter an exclusive on the entire story. In these cases, consider offering an exclusive angle to the story by providing the reporter an opportunity to secure an important interview that would make their story stand out from the rest.
Make Follow-Up Calls
If you’re new to pitching to media, it can be tempting to just send a press release and hope for the best. However, it is imperative to follow-up your email with a call to lock down coverage.
Journalists are often working on deadlines, so their time is valuable. When you make follow-up calls, try to explain the story in a minute or less, then offer to answer any questions they may have about the pitch you sent via email. If you’re seeking coverage from a television station, be mindful of the time of day you call, as they may be preparing for a live broadcast.
While it’s important to follow up, remember that reporters are busy and you’ll need to allow them time to get back to you. Try to find a balance between being persistent and being patient. If three or four business days have passed and you haven’t heard back from a reporter or blogger, send them a quick follow-up email.
As the media landscape continues to evolve, with online publications and bloggers becoming increasingly more influential, strategies for pitching content will also change. Learning the best way to pitch your content is an ongoing practice.
There are many variables that come into play when you’re trying to generate positive press, and not every tactic will work with every journalist. If you’re in need of experienced PR strategists who can help you secure media coverage, contact Fiore Communications today at 850-668-0510.