As a publicist, your main goal is to get your client the media coverage they are looking for. What a better way to do this than directly pitching stories to journalists? By pitching you are convincing the reporter to cover your client–whether it be an influencer, entrepreneur, or business–and that is known to be one of the most effective ways to get the publicity you are looking for.
There are many ways to pitch your idea, but journalists prefer to be reached through emails since it is a less intrusive way of contacting them. The State of Journalism 2019 Muck Rack survey established that 63% of American journalists and 31% of overseas journalists would rather be contacted via email. This is relevant information for when you are getting ready to pitch your idea. You want to be able to set a good impression from the first communication so your partnership can go further, and you can continue to work with that reporter.
Journalist receive multiple pitches per day, and it is important you prepare yourself before sending your email. First, you need to do your research by understanding the topic and finding the right angle. But above everything, you need to know the reporter you are contacting. Study them and find the one who writes on similar subjects. This will be extremely helpful since you will be able to mention their previous work, and even some important articles you’ve read, when sending your pitch.
When thinking about your pitch, make sure you have more than one idea for a story in case the first one is rejected. For you to come up with them, you need to know your client really well–interests, values, quirky facts–so that when you start pitching you can point out the perfect points: client facts, background, and important features. Once you are familiar with these concepts, you need to make sure that your pitch supports certain goals or objectives that will justify the journalist writing about it.
In the era of social media, you have to confirm that your clients’ social media accounts are up to date for two particularly important reasons. Number one, some reporters will check those accounts to see if your client’s content is consistent and current. Also, certain journalists keep track of their stories and how they are being shared so they will check to see how that will happen through your social media. You need to stay updated so that it will be attractive for them.
Number two, by keeping social media in mind, you will aim to pitch a story that can be shareable. How to do this? Constantly keep track of the different trends that happen every day. Nowadays, there are too many trends happening at the same time and knowing them will help you understand what angle works for your client. To keep tabs on them, you can check Google Trends or Twitter and see what hashtags are trending.
Creating the Perfect Email
Like we said before, contacting journalists through email is your best option. But what kind of email? How can you ensure they read what you are offering? Here are a few tips:
- Timing is key! Make sure you know the reporters’ working hours and their deadlines, work around their needs.
- The subject line will be the most important line you write in this email. Make sure you writer it after you’ve written the body of your pitch, so it connects everything. It has to be short and concise with the keywords upfront. Avoid those titles that look like spam (with exclamation marks or all caps) and aim to offer an exclusive: the timeliness of the subject, the human interest, how it is unusual, the impact it will have, the conflict it is referring to, it’s controversy, if there is a well-known person involved, if it offers a solution, if it saves money, or if it offers a smarter way to do things.
- Your information must be included. Your name and the name of your company need to be clear. Always have your website and cell phone number in your signature so they know how to reach you.
- Get to the point as fast as you can using direct, conversational, and personalized language. Your pitching idea should be introduced in the first two or three lines.
- Don’t include media releases!
Pitching a story about your client to a journalist will be one of the most common things you are working on. For that very reason, you need to know how to do it in a way that it will call their attention and motivate them to write about the story you are offering them. It is important to know who you are contacting, why, and how they would benefit from covering this particular pitch. If you follow this guide, we can guarantee you will get a speedy reply from the reporter you are contacting.