Those working in the media receive hundreds of emails a day from people who want their story told. How do you make sure your pitch stands out from all the others? Follow these simple tips to help break through the clutter and secure coverage.
Develop a relationship
Producers, reporters and writers are required by their supervisors to have multiple story ideas each day. To quickly sift through their trove of emails, they tend to look for names they recognize; they simply cannot read every email that comes to their inbox. You increase your chances of getting a response if you can develop a professional relationship with someone.
Another way to build a relationship is to connect with the reporter. Follow journalists on Twitter. They’ll appreciate that and you can learn more about their work and interests. This can also be an effective way to make a connection with your pitch. They might follow you back and over time as you interact with them, you can even direct message them to let them know you have an interesting story to share.
Create an eye-catching subject line
A good subject line is essential, but don’t get too catchy or cute. It needs to be succinct, direct and to the point. Sometimes putting the word “local” is attention-getting and will garner results.
If you didn’t get results and would like to recirculate a press release or a pitch, it is helpful to put “follow-up” at the front of the same subject line. That will often trigger a response.
Make it local
A local story has a better chance of getting coverage. Reporters ask themselves ‘Why does my viewer/reader/listener care? ‘What can I offer my audience that they cannot get on a national level?’
Keep in mind:
- For TV, it is about visuals and highlighting emotion (there are numerous emotions that make great news stories)
- Radio is about a dynamic interview; the point is to paint a picture with your words
- Online (Print) nicely ties both together
Short and sweet
It’s important to make your pitch relevant, timely and have a personal impact to their audience.
If you are sending a pitch in an email, do not send any attachments. Embed the press release in your email and offer to send photos if the reporter/editor would like to have them.
If you are delivering a pitch on the phone, make it succinct and easy to understand. Practice your pitch. You typically have a good 20 seconds to make your case to a journalist and then hopefully they’ll ask you a question because you’ve piqued their initial interest.
Conduct follow up
A follow-up call is key to securing coverage. It helps make sure the person on the receiving end sees your email and it isn’t lost in cyberspace. It also gives time for them to ask questions and learn more about what you are pitching.
If it is an event, a call helps confirm it is on their planning calendar. If it is a bigger story, having a phone conversation helps them understand the topic/issue and vet the story. What are the visuals? Who is the spokesperson?
Using all of these tips collectively is a sure way to get noticed and receive coverage. Happy pitching!