How to write a winning media pitch

Creating compelling media pitches is the cornerstone of any PR-driven strategy.

Effective media pitching can position you and your company as an industry leader and generate positive conversations about your brand.

Nearly every journalist prefers to receive media pitches via email. There’s just one problem – journalists receive hundreds of pitches every week. This means you have to do a lot to stand out from the crowd. But how do you do this?

Before resonating with the person charged with accepting or declining your pitch, you first must understand what a media pitch is and how it differs from other communication types.

What is a media pitch?

A media pitch is not a press release. A media pitch outlines the details of a feature article or news story then explains why the journalist’s audience will be interested. A pitch usually maintains a conversational tone and is tailored for a particular journalist.

When writing a media pitch, the key to hitting your story’s ‘selling point’ is twofold. An excellent message must transform your issue or subject from what you perceive to be necessary to what the journalist considers newsworthy. So, what should you do to get your pitch noticed?

Focus on the journalist, not the outlet

This advice turns the traditional public relations approach on its head. But by directly emailing preferred journalists instead of sending your pitch to generic email addresses is the best way to get ahead of your competitors.

We guarantee you the overworked editor who manages the general inbox has too much on their plate to pay your pitch the attention it deserves.

While email blasts may be a common strategy, they can attract little response. Rather, target specific writers who cover subject areas matching your brand story. For instance, if you are launching a new automation product, it would be ideal to contact the publication’s tech correspondent instead of communicating with the news desk.

Let’s get personal

Once you find the right writer, it’s time to do some research.

If you can find a way to personalise your upcoming pitch to their personality or previous articles, you’re far more likely to hear back from them.

Show you admire the journalist’s previous work but don’t be gushy.

Personalising your pitch like this is how the pros do it because it’s the opposite of spam email.

No journalist will take a pitch seriously if they think it has been sent to another 300 journalists – they want to be the first to tell your story, not the last. Make them feel special.

Additionally linking your story to a previous article the journalist has written recently gives them the idea for a ‘follow-up’ to their original piece – something they are always looking to do.

And finally, make sure you spell the journalist’s name correctly.

Journalists are obsessed with typos and grammar. If you can’t be bothered to make sure you’ve got their name right they will hit delete.

Create a compelling subject line

The subject line of your email pitch must contain your news hook – the one thing that makes your story stand out and demand a journalist’s attention.

Your subject line should be fewer than eight words and is usually based on the attention-grabbing headline of your press release.

You can get it right by mimicking the style of the journalist’s previous headlines.

If your email subject line doesn’t grab them, your media pitch is dead in the water.

Pick the correct angle

The key to pitching successfully is to get into the mindset of helping the journalist to do their job.

We guarantee that if you simply send a generic email pitch or press release to a journalist — even one that has a personalised introduction or subject line — you WILL get ignored.

This is kind of like going on a first date. You need something that grabs their attention and makes them feel connected to you. You need to pitch them a story that:

  • Is related to their past work, but…
  • Is unique and fresh enough they haven’t thought of this angle, and…
  • Fits the needs of the outlet they work for.

And remember, brevity is a skill universally appreciated by busy journalists.

Closing your email pitch

Always end on a useful note – remember your job is to help the journalist do their job.

Invite the journalist to contact you if they need any more information.

The triple check before hitting ‘Send’. If your pitch looks rushed and sloppy the journalist will ignore it – take the time to get it right. This is your one and only opportunity to impress this journalist and convey to them you have a decent news story.

Following up

Journalists are incredibly busy. Remember, you are there to help them do their job, not harass them.

Give it three days and then send a follow-up email to ensure they got your first one. Chances are they haven’t read it yet and this will prompt them to do that.

If you do get a positive response to your media pitch email then this is your opportunity to build a relationship with the journalist.

Bend over backwards to meet their requests.

They may well want to do an interview over the phone to get additional quotes, ask for further information or even arrange a photo shoot.

There’s a lot that you can do to come up with a winning media pitch and Vaxa Group’s media and communications team is here to help and ensure you get the anticipated positive responses from your targeted media contacts.

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