Back to the Basics

As a TV journalist-turned-PR pro, I’ve been on the other side of hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches. Some of them were good. But most got deleted.

About 1 percent of them were great. Those pitches all had a few things in common:

1.    KISS – One of the first rules you learn in journalism school is KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid (I prefer “Sweetheart,” but that’s just me!). You’ve got about 10 seconds to get a journalist’s attention. Use it wisely! The subject line of your email is the most valuable real estate in your pitch.

2.    Don’t get attached – Oh, did you attach a press release to that email? I’m sorry. You assume I care enough to download it! Always, always, always copy and paste your press release into the body of an email. In almost 10 years of TV news, I never downloaded a single attachment included in a pitch.

3.    Easy does it – Journalists always need story ideas to impress their managers. You need coverage for your client. They’ve got a problem. You can solve it. Tell them exactly who you can give them access to and what those soundbites/quotes will probably sound/look like. Help them map out the story, so you can make their job as easy as possible.

4.    Be a mind reader – Anticipate a journalist’s needs. Got a client who wants coverage for their grand opening? Send a photo of the store. Even better, shoot some video on your phone and email that. Producers and editors need content. They may not have a photographer handy, but you’ve just eliminated that need – increasing your chance of getting coverage.

Those are my quick and dirty tips. What are yours?