Pitching can be both a blessing and a curse. One day you’re not hearing from any journalists or receiving a very short reply along the lines of, “NO THANKS.” The next a journalist gets back to you and wants to work on a feature story or an exclusive and you’re left wondering, “WTF! How did this happen?!”
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to pitching anyone including journalists for that matter. A well-crafted subject line, a clear ask, and specifics are always welcomed, as we’ve heard many times on Coffee with a Journalist, but that’s just the start.
After posing this question to Twitter, recipients cast their votes for the worst part of the pitching process. Can you guess what many of the respondents said was their least favorite piece of the pitching process?
Cast your vote below 👇
— 🤙 Jered Martin 🤙 (@JmoMonk) March 16, 2021
Pitching in General
Now that we know over 45% of respondents dread the infamous “follow-up” let’s dig into the insights they shared about other segments of the pitching process.
The same frustration Katya Pavlevych voices are one many of us are familiar with:
Guessing whether the journalist isn’t interested or just missed your email or just forgot
— Katya Pavlevych (@Kpavlevych) March 17, 2021
Luckily, there are many tools you can use (for free) that will help you know if a journalist has opened your email or clicked any of the important links. For starters, you can download an app extension (on most well known browsers) that will allow you to track your outreach as well as the actions of the recipient. One of the top rated apps in the Chrome Web Store is called Mailtrack. With over 1,000,00+ users and a 4.5-star rating from 10,000+ users, it’s one of the most highly rated browser extensions. The free version comes with basic open metrics and the paid pro version includes a bunch of extra goodies like link tracking, mail merge campaigns (not recommended for pitching purposes), and real-time read receipts. Other popular tools like the HubSpot CRM have mail tracking capabilities and you can sign up for a free version here.
For Douglas Geller, it comes down to two things; time and customization:
Not having enough time to customize a pitch for every reporter and having to send a general pitch to most knowing customized pitch’s gets better results.
— Douglas Geller (@douggeller27) March 16, 2021
We all wish we could have a few extra hours in the day to spend on an array of things including crafting the perfect, customized message to each individual journalist. However, time isn’t always on our side nor are pesky clients who expect a placement for the news they’ve shared in the hopes of landing interest and coverage. This is one of the reasons we created OnePitch Scores to alleviate part of the time it takes to know who to pitch your news to. By submitting a pitch, press release, or company description we can scan our database of journalists and tell you exactly WHO you should pitch based on similar subject matter. Don’t believe us? Create a free account and see for yourself!
Pitching Broadcast Media
In another question I asked via Twitter, respondents shared their recommendations and tactics for pitching broadcast journalists. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
Cassie Gonzalez (OnePitch alum) from KCDPR says this about broadcast media pitches:
When pitching broadcast, look first for someone with a “booking or scheduling” title. These producers are much more likely to respond than an anchor.
— Cassie Gonzalez (@cass_mcfrass) April 27, 2021
A quick Google search including the outlet name and titles she mentions can easily yield results for what you’re looking for. Try searching, “nbc booking producer,” for yourself and see what pops up!
Bob Neufeld is no stranger to pitching broadcast producers either:
Make sure you mention that your pitch contains visual elements that will make it appealing for a TV audience. Ensure that you have a spokesperson available for an on-camera interview and, where possible, offer B-roll that the reporter can use to illustrate the key points.
— Bob Neufeld (he/him) (@BobNeufer) April 27, 2021
We have mentioned how important visual elements are to B2C services and products when sending an email pitch and it’s no different for broadcast. He also makes a valid point about having a spokesperson, and I would add someone who has media training. There’s nothing worse than a national TV segment going awry because the spokesperson is nervous or underprepared for the questions that ensue.
Mark Smith, a current journalist, makes a great point about expectations when working with broadcast journalists:
I think print sometimes have more control over their news agenda, whereas in broadcast there seems to be more people involved in deciding what is, and what isn’t going to be covered.
— Mark Smith – Journalist | Copywriter (@marksmithwriter) April 27, 2021
While I nor OnePitch has direct experience in pitching broadcast journalists it’s an important reminder that nothing is guaranteed even if there has been interest. Newsrooms have a ton of moving parts and many times there are 3+ individuals beyond the journalist who has the final say. Make sure expectations are clearly outlined for your company or client so that there’s no celebration before the segment airs.
Thankfully, you can learn how to pitch more effectively through many of the resources we provide here at OnePitch. Read more about the 7 resources we recommend using to learn journalist’s preferences and understand how you should approach journalists before the pitch even begins.
For more weekly Twitter questions, check out my Twitter page every Tuesday and chime in with your answers! Also, take a moment to follow OnePitch on Twitter where we share even more tips, tricks, and industry advice to enable you to pitch more effectively.