Did you know journalists are estimated to receive 20-30 pitches per day? With an influx of ideas and only a few stories to write in a given period, it’s important to do what you can to make your pitch stand out. But where do you even start? Here are a few tips to help your pitch catch a reporter’s attention.
Ensure your story is relevant
Before you send a pitch, evaluate if your idea is relevant and timely. This will make or break your potential story. For example, waiting a month to share photos from a client’s fundraising event will diminish your window of opportunity. Another way to capitalize on relevance and timeliness is to monitor national news. There are often trend stories you can leverage in your pitch to demonstrate relevance and how it applies on a local level.
Do your research
Once you determine your idea’s relevance and timeliness, decide which outlet would be the best fit for your story. This could be a local newspaper, industry magazine, etc. Next, you should review its reporters’ beats. For example, a nonprofit writer probably won’t be interested in a story about a new restaurant opening, but a business or food reporter might. Once you find the right reporter, then decide the best way to contact them. Business emails are always a professional mode of communication, but there are other routes you can take. If they’re active on X and regularly ask for story ideas, tweeting or direct messaging them is appropriate. However, we recommend refraining from finding their personal Facebook account and messaging them there. When in doubt, take the professional route!
Avoid errors to the best of your ability
Hannah Montana said it best, “Everybody makes mistakes,” but it’s better to avoid them if you can. Double-check how the reporter spells their name, ensure links are live and make sure dates are correct to avoid frustration, confusion and wasted time. Spellcheck is your friend! If you’re hesitant to press send, ask a colleague if they would review your pitch for you. A fresh set of eyes is a great way to catch any errors you may have overlooked.
Make your subject line interesting
Your subject line is a window to your story. If a subject line isn’t intriguing, a reporter may delete the email without opening it. If it’s a light-hearted topic, consider being funny or using emojis. For more serious matters (or if you can’t think of a pun), a short, concise summary of your email is perfect.
Send everything they could need
A reporter’s job isn’t easy and can be very time-consuming. If you’re able, help them out and give them everything they might need for their story! We find when we provide a cohesive package, reporters are more inclined to consider covering our story. Include photos or videos, share contact information for potential interview subjects, etc. A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were a reporter, what would I need to write this story?” Your answer will tell you what you should include!
Crafting a good pitch is borderline scientific, but once you figure out the formula, it should come with ease. Remember to check relevance and timeliness, ensure you have the correct outlet and reporter, double-check for errors and include everything a reporter needs. As PR professionals, we can’t guarantee coverage, but from experience, this is a great way to increase your odds!