How should you pitch a reporter? What can you do to increase your chances of media pitching success? Incorporate these seven components into your email pitches, and you'll be lining up interviews before you know it.
You’re ready to generate media coverage of your company or personal brand – but, where do you start? How do you get a reporter’s attention?
With a well-crafted, deliberately written email. Yes, a simple email.
These days, most reporters prefer to be pitched via email – but, they receive dozens (sometimes even hundreds) of email pitches a day. Increase your chances of standing out and generating the coverage you’re after by incorporating these seven components into your pitches:
1. A must-open subject line
Your first task in crafting a successful media pitch is to write a must-open email subject line. Without the right subject, your email – as wonderful as it might be – might not ever be opened.
Keep your subject line brief, allude to the content within the email, but don’t give everything away. Leave the recipient wanting to know more. Evoke curiosity.
One of our successful subject lines was: “World Peace? There’s an App for That”. We used it to announce a mindfulness app, and the pitch resulted in coverage in a wide range of different outlets including CNBC and Cheddar, two of our top targets at the time. We credit the success of the pitch largely to the subject line and its effectiveness at enticing contacts to open – and read – the email.
2. A well-researched target list
It’s all too easy to draft up an email and blast it out to hundreds of media contacts. And while this tactic might get you some interest, it’s always best to do your research properly and treat reporters like people.
Meaning: take the time to research each one of the contacts you’re pitching. Tailor your emails to their specific reporting interests and recent coverage. Demonstrate that you respect their time and their work by offering them story ideas and experts that are likely to be a good fit.
3. The right number of paragraphs
Keep in mind that your email pitch won’t be the only one a reporter receives in a given day. Media contacts are bombarded with emails all day long.
Respect reporters’ time – and improve your chances of hooking their attention – by keeping your pitch concise. Provide enough information to be compelling, but leave out anything that isn’t essential for your initial outreach. Once a contact has expressed interest, you can provide additional information in your follow-up emails and calls with them.
(Muckrack’s State of Journalism survey finds that reporters prefer pitches that are 2-3 paragraphs in length.)
4. Clear language
Companies often want to reuse marketing language in their publicity materials.
Don’t do this.
Language used in marketing materials is typically sales-oriented and, frankly, it can be a bit superfluous. Language used for media pitching should be clear, simple, and to the point.
Don’t make reporters try to translate your marketing-speak to understand what you’re really trying to say to them.
5. A clever angle
It’s essential that you present reporters with a clever, unique, or newsy angle in your pitch.
Take time to brainstorm up a list of potential story angles. Throw ideas around with your team, and ask friends and family for feedback.
Also, monitor news in your industry very closely. If something pops up in the news that has relevance to your company, product, or area of expertise, offer yourself to the media to comment.
6. Proven expert credibility
Why should a reporter consider speaking with you? Offer a quick sentence or two that explains clearly why you’re a reliable expert in your presented subject matter. Think about what makes you a credible source. Why does your perspective matter? How would a reporter’s audience benefit from hearing your insights or commentary?
7. A quick ask
Wrap up your email pitch with a brief – but friendly – ask. Depending on your desired outcome, something along the lines of “Would you like more information?” or “Would you like to speak with [XYZ] about this topic?” works well.
Once you’ve written and sent your perfect email pitch, don’t be afraid to follow up – but stick to one follow up per pitch topic. If you haven’t heard back after two emails (your original pitch and one follow up), it’s generally best to move along to another contact and / or a different pitch topic.
One final tip: keep timing in mind. Reporters need time to assess a story, conduct interviews, pitch to their editor, and take care of any number of tasks that go into the production of a final, published article. Different reporters and outlets work with different lead times, so plan your pitching accordingly.