Welcome back to our blog series about building a perfect pitch and nurturing your media relationships! This article is all about best practices for pitching—based on our customers’ collective experience and wisdom.
As we mentioned last week, the key to creating a relevant and compelling pitch is knowing your audience. Ultimately, understanding your readers will help both you and the media to deliver the content people want to consume.
Whether your story is about a specific product, a person, an innovation or a milestone, you must approach it from your readers’ perspective. Why should they pay attention? What is going to be useful, interesting or exciting to them? What does your story or brand offer that the journalists, and therefore, their audiences, can’t get anywhere else?
Using data and technology can help you make pitching even more targeted and precise. Information collected on the effectiveness of previous pitches, such as emails opened by journalists, stories picked up, and resulting social media engagement, website traffic and desired actions, can shed a lot of light on what’s actually working and not working.
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To help you get started, here are the pitching best practices we collected over the years from companies big and small:
Capture their attention with a great headline
This one speaks for itself. You only have a few seconds to generate excitement, suspense or otherwise be enticing enough with your email subject line and / or your headline for the person on the receiving end to want to open your email and jump into the content.
Provide an introduction that compels them to read more
In pitching, it pays to get straight to the point. Journalists must find both the gist and the “hook” of the story in the introductory paragraph. Ask yourself, why would someone want to find out more about this topic? Then answer this question in your intro.
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Explain how the story will benefit the reader
Remember, your story is not about you — it’s about them. This is where your research on what impactful authors write about and in which style comes in handy. An effective pitch must resonate with the journalist and clearly explain the benefits of your story to their audience.
Also, make sure that your pitch is timely. Connect it to current issues or events, such as recent news, new statistics, or a new element to a story that the journalist has recently covered.
Keep it simple, concise and well-organised
Quick and easy to read is the name of the game. A journalist’s time is very precious, so give them what they want and need — be crystal clear, keep your pitch short and sweet, and highlight the key points so that they don’t have to fish for them.
Organise your most salient information at the top with a bulleted list, and provide snippets of relevant data with links to more data if needed.
Personalise your pitch
Personalisation is not just about including the journalist’s first name – you’ll want to incorporate your insights on what you know about them, how your pitch will fit into their overall subject matter and style / tone, and why you want to work with them. Since you’re writing to real people and not just email addresses, your communication must create and nurture a connection.
While it takes a bit more time and effort to truly customise each and every pitch you send, Onclusive’s customers find that it goes a long way toward earning the author’s trust and respect.
Deliver a complete package
While keeping your pitches concise, you must also ensure journalists have everything they might need to cover your story. What will help them bring it to life and make it engaging? Which key facts or data points are important? This could include documents such as fact sheets, assets such as images, videos, success stories or customer quotes, or supporting data, research and methodology.
Thanks to modern PR & Comms tools like those offered by Onclusive, you can now manage all of your relationships, communications, and assets in one place. These tools give you full control of your distribution strategy – you can package your documents and assets with your outreach, have your own online newsroom, or send your press releases via a content hub that houses all of your media-rich communications, downloadable images and your press contacts.
“Onclusive’s Newsroom is easy to use, intuitive, ensures your content looks great and just makes your life easier. Uploading and distributing news releases is so easy and l love the fact it automatically uploads the release to your website without you having to do this separately.”
~ Mark Hannan, Director of Corporate Communications, Scottish Ambulance Service
Consider when to email your pitch
According to a recent article by PRNews, reporters open the most media pitches between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time. Some 35% of journalists open pitches within one minute of receiving them, while most do this within the first 30 minutes. Based on this data, sending your emails between 9-10am (depending on the author’s time zone) will work best as that’s when journalists are more likely to spend a few minutes scanning their inbox for compelling stories.
If you focus on relationship-building right from the start, your pitches will land better. Not hearing back from journalists could be a sign that you may need to adjust your approach.
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