Facing rejection from editors and journalists? Know the sting of an ignored pitch? This guide is for those looking to change the narrative. Discover the secret strategies of how to pitch a news story with impactful real-life examples. Finally, arm yourself with ready-to-use media pitch templates that promise a successful pitch every time.
What is a Pitch in Public Relations?
In public relations, a pitch is your story’s first impression, your initial proposal, aiming to intrigue editors enough to request more. You’re showcasing the most captivating and essential aspects of what you’re offering, whether it’s a thought leadership piece, a product launch, or an upcoming event. The goal of a media pitch is not just to inform, but to spark interest, making the listener eager to learn more or take action.
- Cold email pitches
- News/trending pitches
- Contributor/Guest post pitches
- Follow up pitches
Purpose of a Pitch
A good pitch not only proposes a story but showcases your writing skill, promises value, and hints at a beneficial partnership with the publication. “More than 2 in 3 journalists say the vast majority of pitches they receive are irrelevant”, so making a pitch to a journalist personalized and concise is crucial for capturing attention in this sea of submissions.
A personalized pitch demonstrates a writer’s genuine interest in the publication and an understanding of its audience, fostering trust and aligning with the goals of the media contact. Being concise ensures that the core idea is communicated efficiently, respecting the editor’s time and increasing the chance of the pitch being fully read and considered. A tailored and succinct pitch amplifies a writer’s professionalism and the likelihood of acceptance.
Steps to Take Before You Write Your Pitch
- Research the Publication: Align your pitch with their content style and audience.
Delving deep into a media outlet gives you insight into its unique tone, topics, and readership. By aligning your pitch with the established content style and understanding the interests of its audience, you significantly increase the chances of your pitch resonating with the journalist. Familiarity with the publication showcases professionalism and intentionality.
- Know the Editor: Personalize pitches based on the editor’s previous works and preferences.
Familiarizing yourself with the editor’s past projects and discerning their preferences can make your pitch stand out: “80% of PR professionals believe personalization, customization, or a relevant topic are the most important things to include in a pitch.” Tailoring and personalizing your pitch to align with the editor’s recognized style or interests demonstrates respect for their work. It indicates a collaborative spirit and genuine interest in contributing meaningfully to the publication.
- Have a Solid Story: Ensure your story is timely, relevant, and adds value.
A pitch is only as strong as the story it represents. Ensure your story is timely, tapping into current news events or emerging trends. It should be relevant to the publication’s audience, providing insights or perspectives that are pertinent to their interests. Above all, your story should offer value, either by presenting new information, challenging existing notions, or sparking meaningful conversations.
How Long Should an Email Pitch Be?
An effective pitch should be concise yet compelling, typically ranging from a few sentences to a short paragraph. The goal is to capture the essence of your idea while piquing the journalist’s interest: “Pitches with body lengths between 50 to 150 words had nearly double the average overall response rate at 5.06%.” Think of it as an elevator ride: you have limited time to make an impression, so every word should count. Ideally, your pitch should quickly convey the core of your story, its unique angle, and why it’s relevant to the publication or audience, all without overwhelming the recipient with excessive detail. If they’re intrigued, they’ll ask for more.
How to Get a Journalist to Open Your Pitch Email: The Importance of Your Subject Line
Crafting a clear and concise email subject line is the best practice when you’re pitching to a journalist because it serves as the first impression and determines if they open your email or ignore it. Journalists often receive hundreds of emails daily, and a compelling subject line helps your pitch stand out in a crowded inbox, signaling relevance and value to the recipient. A succinct subject line acts as a gateway, increasing the odds of your media pitch being seen and considered.
How to Pitch Your Story to an Editor:
Start with an engaging hook or statistic to grab their attention. Clearly articulate your proposed piece’s main angle or unique perspective, demonstrating its relevance to the audience of the media outlet. Highlight potential sources or unique insights you’ll bring, and conclude by briefly establishing your credentials or experience related to the topic. Tailoring the pitch to align with the publication’s style and content demonstrates your familiarity with the outlet, enhancing the likelihood of acceptance.
How to Pitch a News Story: Email Template
Opening: Engaging hook or stat
Immediately capture the editor’s attention and make them want to read more. You make your first impression here, so it should be compelling and relevant.
Use a Shocking Statistic: Find a surprising statistic related to your topic. For example, if your pitch is about the decline of bee populations, you might start with, “Did you know that 40% of our pollinating insects, particularly bees, are facing extinction?”
Tell a Brief Story: Share a quick anecdote or story that epitomizes your main point. This personalizes the pitch and can humanize more abstract concepts.
Ask a Provocative Question: Pose a question that challenges conventional wisdom or assumptions about your topic.
Middle: The main idea or angle
This is where you outline the crux of your story or idea. It’s essential to convey not just what you want to talk about but also the unique angle or perspective you intend to bring to it.
Be Clear and Concise: You don’t have a lot of space, so get to the point. Clearly state what your piece will cover.
Offer a Fresh Angle: Make sure your pitch isn’t just a generic topic overview. What makes your story idea different? What kind of story haven’t readers seen before?
Include Potential Sources: If you have access to unique sources or interviews, mention them. It shows the editor that you’ve done your homework and adds credibility to your pitch.
Closing: Why it’s relevant and who you are
It’s time to persuade the editor that your story is timely, important and that you are the right person to write it.
Connect to Current Events or Trends: Show the editor that your story angle is relevant to what’s happening now. For instance, if you pitch a story about remote work, you might mention recent surveys or studies highlighting its rising popularity. Does this news greatly affect an industry that’s relevant to the journalist’s readers?
Highlight Your Credentials: Briefly mention any experience, education, or background that makes you particularly suited to write on this topic. This isn’t just about flaunting your achievements but showing the editor that you bring a level of expertise or unique perspective to the table.
End with Enthusiasm: Express your eagerness or passion for the topic. Let the editor know that you’re not just looking for an assignment but that you’re genuinely excited to delve into this subject and build a partnership.
How to Pitch a News Story: 3 Media Pitch Examples
1. Topic: The Future of Urban Farming
Opening: In the heart of New York City, there’s a farm that’s not on the ground but on the 40th floor of a skyscraper.
Middle: Urban farming has taken an innovative turn with the rise of vertical farms in major metropolitan areas. I want to explore how these high-rising green spaces aren’t just providing fresh produce but are also addressing urban heat islands, contributing to biodiversity, and changing the way city dwellers relate to their food. I’ve arranged access to three of the most successful vertical farms in the U.S. and plan to offer readers a visual tour with in-depth interviews of the architects and agronomists behind these projects.
Closing: As urban areas continue to grapple with space constraints and a growing population, understanding the potential and challenges of vertical farming is crucial. Having written extensively on urban design and sustainability, I am eager to bring our readers this fresh perspective on urban agriculture.
2. Topic: The Resurgence of Vinyl in the Digital Age
Opening: As Spotify announces its 400 millionth subscriber, a small shop in downtown LA sells out its vinyl records in under an hour.
Middle: Despite living in a digital age dominated by streaming, vinyl records are witnessing a surprising and passionate resurgence. I propose a feature exploring the tactile allure of vinyl, its sound quality debate, and the community of collectors and audiophiles that drive this revival. I’ve lined up interviews with record store owners, music historians, and younger-generation vinyl enthusiasts to discuss this analog phenomenon in a digital world.
Closing: As we increasingly engage with intangible forms of media, the return to vinyl underscores a profound human desire for tangible connection. With a background in music journalism and a personal collection of over 300 vinyl records, I’m perfectly tuned to bring this story to life.
3. Topic: The Impact of Esports on Traditional Sports
Opening: Last Sunday, more people tuned in to watch the “Global Gaming League” finals than the NBA championship.
Middle: Esports, once a niche community, has exploded into the mainstream, drawing staggering viewership numbers and investments. I aim to explore how this growth influences traditional sports, from training methods and broadcasting rights to talent recruitment and fan engagement. Exclusive interviews with top esports players, sports analysts, and marketing experts will shape a comprehensive view of this evolving landscape.
Closing: As the lines between esports and traditional sports blur, understanding this intersection becomes vital for anyone interested in the future of entertainment and athletics. Having covered the rise of esports for the past five years, I’m excited to explore this new frontier in sports journalism.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching a Story
1. Not doing your homework
Media contacts prefer pitches tailored to their beat and interests. A generic pitch can come off as lazy or irrelevant.
2. Writing a lengthy pitch
Journalists are swamped with emails daily. A concise, compelling pitch is more likely to grab their attention.
3. Using a dull subject line
The subject line is the first thing a journalist sees. A bland or vague subject line may lead them to skip over your email.
4. Not establishing credibility
Journalists want credible, reliable sources. Establishing your expertise or your source’s authority can make your pitch more compelling.
5. Making it all about you
Your pitch should emphasize the value to the journalist’s readers or audience, not just what you hope to achieve.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I find the right journalist or publication for my pitch?
Before you send a pitch, research publications and writers that cover topics similar to your pitch. Aligning your story with their beat increases the chances of it getting picked.
Should I follow up after sending my pitch?
Following up after sending a pitch to a journalist can increase the visibility of your story amidst the many emails they receive. However, it’s essential to be tactful: wait about 5 to 7 days before sending a concise reminder using the same email thread. Always be polite, ready to accept any outcome, and focus on building a lasting professional relationship rather than just pushing one story. Your approach should strike a balance between being persistent and respectful.
Should I send my pitch to multiple journalists at once?
Sending a pitch to multiple journalists simultaneously can be counterproductive. Tailoring your pitch to each journalist’s specific interests and beat is crucial. Mass emails can appear impersonal and reduce the chances that they will cover your story. Instead, research and target journalists individually to ensure your story aligns with their coverage area, increasing the likelihood of your pitch being considered.
How do I build a relationship with journalists for future pitches?
Building a relationship with journalists involves engaging genuinely with their work, offering valuable insights or sources even when not you’re not trying to pitch, and always being respectful of their time. Consistent, professional interactions and understanding their content preferences can pave the way for a trust-based relationship, enhancing the receptiveness to your future pitches.
What is the best mode of communication when pitching a story?
When it comes to pitching to an editor, email is the preferred mode of communication. It offers professionalism, provides a written record, and allows editors the flexibility to review pitches on their own time. Furthermore, emails enable clear presentation of ideas and easy inclusion of links or samples. While it’s essential to tailor your approach to a specific editor’s or publication’s preferences, email remains the most accessible and effective method for most initial pitches.
Crafting a Follow-Up Email: Effective Post-Pitch Template
Subject: Follow-Up: [Your Story Idea/Topic]
Dear [Journalist/Editor’s Name],
I wanted to follow up regarding the pitch I sent last [date you sent the initial pitch], titled “[Your Story Idea/Topic].”
I understand you’re incredibly busy and receive numerous pitches daily. However, I genuinely believe that this story offers a unique perspective that would resonate with [Publication’s Name]’s audience, especially considering [a recent event or trend that reinforces the timeliness of your story].
If the story isn’t the right fit for your current editorial calendar, I’d appreciate any feedback or insights. Knowing more about your preferences would be invaluable for tailoring future pitches to better serve [Publication’s Name].
Thank you for considering my pitch. I’m eager to collaborate and contribute valuable content to your esteemed platform.
[Your Contact Information, including phone number]
It’s Time to Write Your News Pitch
Now that you have learned how to pitch a news story, it’s time to translate that knowledge into action. Mastering the art of pitching is about merging strategy with authentic storytelling. While the strategies shared here offer a starting point, remember, pitching is an art, with each canvas unique. Should this process seem daunting, Otter PR is here to streamline your journey, ensuring your pitches aren’t just seen but celebrated.
How Otter PR Can Help You Pitch a Story and Build Your Media List
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