Through all positions I held and numerous lectures I attended about PR, one of the most important rules that I learned is about pitching and how to make it stick out. When I first started my PR journey, I didn’t think pitching would be that huge in my career. Boy, was I wrong! I can say that pitching is what takes up almost all of my time. But, it’s very rewarding when your pitch results in a reporter to coming to an event or when an article is written strictly due to your pitch. From all the information I have learned about pitching over the years, here has what has helped me along the way:
The subject line shouldn’t be boring. Just like when you send out your resume or any other important email, the subject line for your pitch is KEY! It determines whether or not your email is even opened. I try to think outside of the box sometimes, but you remember to stay professional.
Make your pitch personal. If I received an email that seemed like an e-blast, I would automatically never read it. Similarly, pitching should be personal. Start with “Hi, (their name)” or something that stuck out when you saw their name. When I began at Obsidian, I maybe sent two pitches that weren’t personalized, and that got me no response. Now, I feel as if I have formed relationships with certain reporters and know how they work. I will send certain messages that include articles I read or appearances they made to spark a conversation and show that I’m paying attention.
Timing is everything. If you are trying to pitch something that happens in a week, that is pushing it. If it’s in three days, forget it. There are new things popping up every minute for the media, and if your pitch doesn’t fall into a certain time frame, coverage likely won’t happen. That’s the beauty (and curse) of the news these days: something new happens every minute and seems more tasteful than the last.
Grammatical errors are not OK. I’m very guilty of this, and it’s a shame. We are typing so fast that and we don’t mean to misspell, but we do. We think that spell check will catch it, but it doesn’t. Just proofread twice – three times even – and you should catch it. Our firm has an internal editing process, so my editor usually catches my errors. However, it’s nice when I catch them on my own first.
Your pitch should be short and sweet. This is the golden rule for pitches. If a pitch is too long, no one will want to read it. Think like a cover letter to your resume. It’s describing the news release or the event. Reporters, bloggers and all media have a busy schedule, and they probably have more pitches to read than you have to send out. Do them a favor and condense it. Be the reason you made their job easier that day.
Be understanding. If a reporter says no, that is ok. Be respectful and understand that they have huge deadlines, as well. You are most likely going to be pitching to them the next day or even in the next hour, so make sure you keep a good relationship. They will appreciate it.
Pitching is a huge thing these days, so have fun with it. Just remember that media get new news leads almost every minute, no matter where you are located. Make it fun and put your creative twist to it. Make their jobs fun for the minute (hopefully less) they read it. It will land you that article or appearance.