Instagram. What started as an inane site where bored teenagers shared less than perfectly edited…
For most PR professionals, the term #PRfail is all too common. And, if you’re not a PR pro but you follow journalists, chances are you’ve come across this before as well. This hashtag has become commonplace amongst the media relations sector and many, including myself, cringe when they see it pop up within their news feed. Nobody wants to be on the brunt end of harsh criticism especially when it comes from journalists.
In this post, we’re taking a bit of a different approach and highlighting what PR professionals did well to reach journalists AND how they did it. Many of us read over and over about ways to craft pitches and reach journalists but we may fall short when it comes to the execution of the task.
Below we’ll outline the 6 examples of successful media pitches and dissect them from 6 perspectives including subject lines, WHAT you are pitching, why timeliness is key, why you need strong supporting data, making sure specific links are included and including important information like images and visuals. Want to see more examples of our pitch templates? Click here.
Now, let’s dive into some real world examples, many of which were submitted through OnePitch, and that not only caught journalists attention but also gave them a good indication of WHY they should write about the pitch more in depth.
A subject line is the first thing a journalist sees in their inbox before they open and/or read your pitch. Subject lines are the starting point for your pitch and oftentimes you want to think of them as an article headline. It’s also important to keep them specific, short, and explanatory. This is certainly not easy and Emma Mckinsey provides a great technique for practicing crafting subject lines below. Read more in this article.
“Once you’ve drafted your email pitch, put together five – or more – potential subject lines. Once you have your list of potential subjects, read through them all and think about which ones would make you most likely to open the email.”
This is a great way to tap into your creativity and practice writing subject lines which is definitely a good habit to implement if your emails aren’t being responded to. Another good technique you can try is reading over previous articles titles related to the journalist you’re pitching and writing down similar subject lines that fit their subject matter.
In the case of the pitch above, the individual made it blatantly obvious who was involved, the company, and the topic the executive could speak about. Kudos to them for hitting the nail on the head!
From my personal experience speaking 1:1 with journalists, I’ve been told it takes them roughly 5 seconds to read over a pitch and determine if it’s relevant. 5 seconds! It might take you minutes or even hours to craft a pitch and your window of opportunity is only a fraction in comparison.
Since the beginning of OnePitch, we’ve stressed the importance of having a clear WHAT, or a clear understanding, of the news and information you are sharing. Brevity is key here since you only have so many seconds before the journalist says, “NEXT! NOT INTERESTED!”
In less than 40 words, this professional was able to get their point across and highlight exactly what news they were sharing. Not only did they focus on the importance of it but also highlighted WHO was involved. Bonus: they also conveyed urgency which we’ll highlight in the next section.
We all know how quick the news cycle is nowadays. What was news yesterday is no longer news today. This may seem like a fallacy but the fact of the matter is it’s part of our DNA now partly thanks to social media and the speed of information sharing.
For some PR professionals, the words “embargo” and “exclusive” resonate with this idea but for others, they are not part of their vocabulary. This pitch in particular was shared a week ahead of the launch date to give ample time for the journalist to cover the news. It’s also helpful to share news ahead of schedule since, well, it’s not publicly available yet.
Another key component of timeliness is availability. As Mary Ann Azevedo puts it below, make sure your sources are ready on the fly, or else you could miss out on that next big story.
Pet peeve: please do not pitch me a story and then tell me that same day that no one is available to be interviewed beyond some questions via email.
— Mary Ann Azevedo (@bayareawriter) December 8, 2020
For many of us, data is integral to our business operations. Dashboards, spreadsheets, and charts inform us on what’s working and what’s not working as well as how we can optimize for success. When it comes to pitching, there isn’t much difference especially when you’re pitching a journalist for the first time.
If you’re a startup this is one of the most important components of pitching because data tends to equal product/service validation. Journalists hear from startups all the time who might be the next “Uber of this” or the “AirBnB of that” but making claims without factual evidence won’t get you far.
For this PR pro, data and visualizations are what drive their success specifically using infographics to tell the story. Providing statistics that validate claims and weaving them into your pitch can help paint a clear picture of why this information is important and why the story needs to be told.
Chances are your company or client has a website, right? If you answered yes to this question and aren’t linking your pitches there or elsewhere then you are severely behind the curve. Simply put, pitches need links because this helps guide the journalist to more information and can even elaborate more on the information you’re sharing.
Our number one recommendation when including links is to ask yourself, “Is this the best place to send the journalist where they can find out more information? A homepage may not be as explanatory as a product page or even an about us page.
The pitch above is a great example of sending journalists to a specific location and leveraging owned media to tell the story. The client released a study on AI-generated text and directed the journalist to learn more directly from their website. But, rather than send the journalist to the homage page or even the blog page, they included a specific link to find more information about the subject. This is a great alternative if you don’t have a press release to share or supporting document(s).
This is a no-brainer but, believe it or not, some folks are still guilty of not including visuals of their product or a headshot of the executive they’re pitching. Think about the last article you read. Was it all text or were there visual elements like photos or video to accompany the text? While some many not recommend including these elements in your initial pitch, it is imperative that you have them readily available at a moment’s request.
The PR pro who submitted the pitch above knew exactly what was needed for the journalist who received their pitch. When it comes to a visual product or service – front end facing if you will – you should always have high quality media assets prepared.
There are tons of free services that can help you do this so don’t think you need to hire a graphic designer, photographer, or videographer to assist you with this.
While the examples above are only a sliver of the actual evidence that suggests PR pros really are good at writing pitches, we know there are many of you out there who know how to do this well.
If you want to know more about what elements your pitch should include, see our last post which covers 5 Elements Every Media Pitch Should Include. We identify 5 critical elements your pitch needs to guarantee
And, if you’re already a pitch creation machine, you may enjoy learning about how OnePitch Scores can help you find the ideal journalist to pitch by simply uploading your pitch and receiving a list of Pitch Scores related to your best match.