The PR world is a competitive place, as countless PR professionals vie constantly for media attention. We all have news to promote, and while we diligently pitch this news to media, securing interest can be a tough nut to crack.
Muck Rack’s 2022 State of PR survey shows 52% of PR pros say their biggest challenge is getting responses from journalists. This makes sense, as journalists have limited time to cover news and must be selective in assessing what content will resonate most with their audience.
As a former community news reporter, I’ve had firsthand experience reviewing PR pitches and greenlighting ones that landed while dismissing the ones that fell flat. Here are a few key elements of pitches that grabbed my attention when I was behind the news desk.
1. A captivating subject line
It may sound obvious but crafting a compelling email subject line is a tried-and-true ingredient. The subject line is the first thing someone sees in their inbox and can make or break your chances of an email being read. And there’s limited space available, meaning you must choose your words carefully.
It’s important to be upfront about what you’re pitching in the subject line, but make sure to include the most pertinent details. For instance, does a reporter focus their coverage on a specific community or region? If so, it will likely help to include that community name in the subject line. Take time and be deliberate in crafting your email subject lines.
2. Concise and to the point
As mentioned, journalists are busy and short on time. If you’re looking to grab their attention, keep your pitch concise and to the point – ideally, no more than two or three paragraphs.
Additionally, it can be easy to draft a pitch and include a lot of information upfront – maybe to provide context – while leaving the most important message at the end. Aim to always lead your message with your main point. If you’re offering a client as an expert source, state this right off the bat. Or if you’re offering a thought leadership column, state this in the opening lines of your email. Don’t beat around the bush – both you and the recipient will appreciate it if you don’t.
3. Familiarity with a journalist’s beats and coverage
A well-crafted pitch is only part of the PR battle and does you no good if it’s sent to the wrong person. Ask yourself, “Who cares about this news?” and be as critical as possible. This will help determine which media contacts to include in your distribution list. Know a journalist’s coverage beat and focus your outreach accordingly.
But don’t stop there – familiarize yourself with the coverage of the journalists you’re pitching. This will give you a better flavor of what news they’re inclined to cover, as well as insight into how to approach pitching your news and specifying why it’s relevant to their audience.
4. A tailored approach
It’s easy to distribute media pitches broadly and hope that they will generate a bite or two. But this can be a recipe for inactivity and a lack of engagement.
To increase your likelihood of success, have a targeted approach to your pitch distribution and tailor your pitch to the recipient and their medium (for instance, pitching to analysts is different than pitching to podcast media). This may require you to be selective in outreach but can result in a higher win rate. When the recipient feels like they’re being addressed as an audience of one, they’re more likely to respond. Maybe you can reference a recent story or social media post of the journalist’s that is relevant; knowledge of their past work may sway their interest.
Ultimately, pitch success comes down to the specific news you’re pitching. And in some cases, the fight for coverage is much harder than in others. But by leveraging these tips, you will strengthen your PR pitches and be empowered to craft compelling narratives that are clear, focused and increase the likelihood of success. Still not sure where to start? Let’s chat.