As public relations professionals, a great deal of our success is based on securing media hits for our clients. In turn, much of our frustration can also come when we don’t achieve media hits for a client or story we know is newsworthy. So where does it all start? I’d say with the perfect media pitch.
The perfect media pitch is a lot like the perfect cupcake. If your cupcake eating starts with the icing, there’s nothing worse than delicious icing and dry, tasteless cake. If the cake happens to be your favorite, then what’s worse than moist, delicious cake with horrible icing? Just like the cupcake has two critical components to make it just right, so does the perfect media pitch.
The media pitch is the toughest (and most important) task to master when dealing with the media relations aspect of a PR professional’s job. It’s your initial contact with the reporter, a.k.a. the gatekeeper to the door that will get your client featured. Let’s be clear – we aren’t aiming for “good” pitches. While a good pitch may certainly get you a response and is better than the ignored “bad” pitch, it’s the “perfect” pitch that gets your client in the door and seals the deal for their media coverage.
So, how do you accomplish both the perfect cake and delectable icing of the media-pitching cupcake? It starts with the subject line. In an age where all pitches are delivered via email, what your reader sees in the subject line can determine whether you get that double click to open or your pitch is headed straight to the trash. At all costs, avoid “press release” or “breaking news” with a slew of exclamation points to follow. This is a sure-fire way to guarantee your pitch a one-way ticket to the trash. Keep your subject lines targeted and short.
Now, to achieve that perfect icing on your media-pitching cupcake, you will want to understand who you are pitching to and personalize it to that reporter. Know reporters’ preferences, their work and their beats, and also be familiar with the audience they are trying to reach. Nothing comes across more haphazardly than pitching a hard news story to an entertainment or sports reporter. You wouldn’t substitute salt for the sugar in your perfect cupcake recipe, so don’t ruin your perfect pitch by being careless.
Lastly, be sure to tell the reporter why your story will interest him or her. You know your client is the greatest thing since sliced bread; now is your time to prove it.