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Hi PR Peeps!
In honor of our recently released – and super awesome – guide to pitching the media, we’re talking about our favorite thing: writing awesome pitches.
If you’ve had a chance to check out this most recent Pitching Pillar, you’ll remember we speak in-depth on the difference between media pitches and press releases.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
THE 1ST ELEMENT | INTENTION
Before you even start writing your pitch, get clear on the goal that your pitch is intended to accomplish. You have to understand what you want so that you make your intention (AKA your goal for contacting the media outlet) clear to the journalist you’re pitching to.
Don’t waste time with flowery rhetoric trying to flatter the journalist into falling for you (it won’t work). It’s okay to be friendly- just make sure your contact knows precisely what your goals are in working with them.
WHAT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE ELEMENT OF INTENTION:
– DETERMINE YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL
Take time before pitching to clarify exactly what outcome you want to achieve
– EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHY YOU’RE PITCHING
Once you understand your goal, make sure it’s clearly (but concisely) explained in your pitch
– DON’T WASTE TIME TRYING TO BUTTER UP JOURNALISTS
Journalists do not have time (nor enjoy) over-the-top flattery. Be polite, be appreciative of their time, but just get to the point.
THE 2ND ELEMENT | TREND RELEVANCY (AKA YOUR PEG)
You must identify why your story is relevant. Do some research to see if your pitch aligns with any current trends (referred to as ‘News Pegs’), or a specific anniversary or date (a ‘Time Peg’).
Use your ‘Peg’ (learn more about those here) in the opening of your pitch AND your subject line! A good peg is how you interest the journalist enough to get them to read the rest of your pitch.
Take a look at this straight-forward reply to the Twitter thread we posted asking what elements every pitch must have to be successful.
“Clear, timely to the moment, and yet pegged to a broader theme that has legs. And relevant to the recipients’ outlet.” – Jim Boyle, Marketing/PR Exec
Again: make sure you include your tantalizing ‘peg’ in the subject line (never skimp out on this).
Still not convinced about the impact that a powerful subject line makes? Mary Brynn Milburn of Tech PR Pro provides very concise input on what a subject line must accomplish when using a peg…
“A strong, catchy subject line 🙂 In addition, keeping it short and sweet but hitting the relevant high points[…]” – Mary Brynn Milburn, Idea Grove
WHAT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE ELEMENT OF RELEVANCY:
– IS YOUR STORY A ‘LEAD PEG’
Research to see if your story coincides with a trending story/topic that you can mention in your pitch.
– IS YOUR STORY A ‘TIME PEG’
If your story isn’t a ‘Lead Peg’, see if it coincides with specific dates/events you can use to your advantage instead?
– HIGHLIGHT YOUR PEG IN YOUR PITCH
Put your peg in the subject line and opening paragraph for the best chance of getting a journalist’s attention.
THE 3RD ELEMENT | VALUE
If you’ve done your research and gotten clear on what makes your story relevant (worth writing about), then explaining the VALUE of your story should be fairly simple.
The key is being concise. Don’t over-explain. Think of it like an elevator pitch or a mission statement. It’s also a good idea to include data and relevant research supporting your story’s value whenever possible.
WHAT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE ELEMENT OF VALUE:
– WHY IS YOUR STORY WORTH READING?
Your peg can be a huge aspect of what makes your story valuable, but try to be very objective and make sure that what you want covered is important to everyone… not just your company/client.
– IS IT CLEARLY COMMUNICATED AND CONCISE?
Ensure your peg/value is included in the subject line and opening paragraph. Don’t let it get lost in over-explanation. Less is more when pitching.
– DOES IT INCLUDE RELEVANT DATA BACKING UP THE VALUE?
Get cold, hard facts to back up your claims/story (if needed). Numbers are your friend.
Take a look at this fantastic post on Ruby Media Group’s website titled ‘Pitch-Perfect: Pitching The Media‘. They share valuable insight and some motivating concepts worth checking out after you’re done here.
THE 4TH ELEMENT | PERSONALIZATION
In other posts, we’ve explained it’s imperative to strictly pitch journalists within the industry relevant to your story. We’ll say it again, but this time we’ll explain how to apply that element and increase your odds of success.
The first step is researching the journalist or publication. Get a good idea of how they write, and familiarize yourself with recent stories they’ve covered.
When you’ve got that information, use it as leverage in your pitch by explaining why your story fits their content style and audience.
Don’t just take our word for it- here another reply on our Twitter thread to back us up!
“Specificities and customization are the most important elements of pitching. They show that you have done the research and understand the importance of the job at hand.” – Tonya McKenzie
As you can see, when you take the media outlet seriously… they’ll take YOU seriously.
Everyone you’re dealing with is a person, so consider how likely you’d respond to an email that was clearly sterile and generic versus one that’s structured and personalized to you.
WHAT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE ELEMENT OF PERSONALIZATION:
– RESEARCH THE JOURNALIST(S) YOU’RE CONTACTING
Get to know them and what they like to write about.
– FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH RECENT STORIES THEY’VE WRITTEN
Reading up-to-date content is a great way to make sure the journalist is the right fit.
– MENTION THEIR WORK AND WHY YOUR STORY FITS THEIR CONTENT STYLE
Explain why one of the recent/relevant stories they’ve written is relevant to your story. It’s a great way to show you did your research.
– A MEDIA PITCH IS NOT A PRESS RELEASE
Writing pitches and press releases are two totally different animals. You can learn more about the difference here.
BONUS TIP: Not sure where to start when it comes to finding a journalist– but want to make sure you don’t waste any time on dead leads?
We’ve got what you need. Check out our latest tool: OnePitch Scores. We’ve taken the time to eliminate the guesswork when searching for the perfect journalist to pitch.
THE 5TH ELEMENT (TEEHEE) | CONTACT INFO
This might seem obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. Make sure the journalist knows how to get in touch with you (and in more ways than just your email address). Clearly outlining your contact info ensures a journalist never has to do extra work- which automatically improves the likelihood that your pitch will get a response.
Our friends over at ‘Balance Small Business’ have a great post on other important pitching elements- and even go into the ‘features versus benefits’ rule. Make sure you check it out (once you’re done here, of course)!
WHAT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE ELEMENT OF CONTACT INFO:
– MAKE IT CLEAR ON HOW TO CONTACT YOU
Don’t just rely on your email signature, put your contact info in bold so it’s easy for the journalist to find later.
– PROVIDE MORE THAN JUST YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
You never know how a specific journalist may prefer to make contact, so always include all of your contact info for reference.
– MAKE IT EASY FOR THE JOURNALIST & THEY’RE MORE LIKELY TO RESPOND
Because journalists have very busy schedules, when you provide journalists with all of the info they need, you automatically win points.
SEE? SENDING PITCHES DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SCARY!
As described, the 5 elements discussed today are nothing crazy or overly complicated. The most important aspect of pitching is preliminary RESEARCH. Your pitch’s success depends greatly on how well you’ve planned ahead.
THE MORE YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR STORY, YOUR JOURNALIST, AND CURRENT TRENDS- THE EASIER IT WILL BE TO CRAFT SMART AND WORTHWHILE PITCHES.
You can’t afford to skimp on preplanning. Not only does lack of planning make pitch writing way more confusing, but it drastically impedes success.
On another note, we have something else we want to share with you, too (and it’s super fun)!
if you’re loving OnePitch…
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As always, we hope this deep dive into the 5 Elements Every Media Pitch Should Include has given you more confidence and applicable tools to add punch to your pitch.
(okay, that was a figure of speech… please don’t punch anyone- our lawyers would be all on our backs, and it DEFINITELY is NOT how you get a journalist to work with you)
Alright, see you guys next time!