5 Questions to Guide You to the Perfect Pitch Before contacting the media, hone your pitch with these pointers
Pitching the media is a talent that takes time, effort, and attention to detail to master. Every day, it becomes more difficult to break through. As newsrooms shrink and responsibilities grow, reporters are struggling with overflowing inboxes.
How do you know your pitch is great, other from doing your homework and following a reporter’s beat and reading their work to confirm they’re the proper fit? If you can answer “yes” to five questions, you’re probably on the correct track.
1. Is it attention-grabbing?
The headline, or your email’s subject line, is the most important part of your pitch. It determines if a reporter will stop their scrolling and open up the message, and it provides an immediate frame of reference.
When you write a headline, consider whether you’d click on the message if it appeared in your mailbox. Use proven headline writing methods, such as numbers, “how to” and “what you need to know” formats.
2. Is it relevant?
For 71 percent of journalists in Business Wire’s 2020 Media Survey, the biggest pet peeve is receiving pitches that have no bearing on their “local market audience, brand or beat.” Consider if the reporter can clearly see how your news is relevant to them and their audience.
Does what you’re pitching relate to a topic trending in their world? Will it satisfy their readers’ interests or need for information on a timely topic? Are you offering a fresh take on a trend, exclusive data, or something new or unknown? Lead with what is unique and will resonate.
3. Is it succinct?
Make your point, quickly. Another media survey found that “91 percent of journalists prefer pitches under 200 words.” Check your word count and be ruthless with edits. Help guide the reporter who is likely scanning your pitch: break up large blocks of text, use bullets, and put key phrases in bold.
4. Does it make their job easier?
Be a partner. Have any complementary resources ready, from high-quality images, graphics and videos to accessible experts, spokespersons, or data. Send your pitch early in the week, preferably Mondays, and give them time to digest information before following up in about a week.
5. Does it boost their visibility?
Go one step further. Provide a social media “sound bite” complete with hashtag, giving a reporter a preview of how the story could spark people to comment, like, or share. According to Muck Rack, 62 percent of journalists track how many times their stories are shared on social media.
Capitalize on opportunities
Once you have a reporter’s attention, keep it by being responsive and following through. If you’re a reliable source, that reporter may open future pitches from you more readily or even reach out for material.