In a world when journalists are busier than ever before, the need to create a punchy and impactful pitch has never been more essential. The key to a successful pitch that will actually be read is all about carefully writing, reviewing and revising your words as well as the person you sending the pitch to.
Here are five tips that will give you the best chance at getting that piece of coverage over the line:
- Know who your pitch is going to
Having a strong understanding of who you’re pitching to is a key starting point to converting your pitch into coverage. Take time to research the journalist or producer and find out what they recently covered so that the journalist a) knows that they’re not the recipient of a copy/paste job and b) can see exactly why your pitch links back to what they cover each day. Put in every effort to ensure that the person you’re pitching to is the right person and that they know exactly why you have chosen to send them the pitch.
- Use a subject line that sells your story
The subject line is the first opportunity you have to convince your journalist that your pitch is worthwhile, and should not be underestimated! You may have a story offering, but if you don’t get the journalist to open the email, it’s a wasted effort.
Your subject line should be one that catches their attention whilst getting your main point across. Determine what you are ultimately trying to say and then craft a subject line in five to seven words.
Where possible, try to personalise the line, whether by including the journalists’ coverage area or the page/section they look after. While it should be creative, it shouldn’t read like spam so try to avoid using exclamation marks and buzzwords.
- Get to the point – be succinct and clear
Journalists can receive hundreds of emails every single day, so it’s important to get their attention early and get to the point quickly. A waffling pitch will only disengage whoever is reading it and you could lose out on an successful piece of coverage. The less reading, the better when it comes to a pitch so make sure you get your main points across and specify any deadlines or crucial dates.
A pitch email that is 2-3 short paragraphs and uses dot points to list key statistics or assets is a great framework to work from.
- Know what you’re offering the journalist
Be very clear on what you’re offering in your pitch and make sure you’re offering them something that they don’t have access to themselves. Whether it’s an exclusive interview or new research, this needs to be stated early on in the pitch.
Ensure that what you’re offering is a holistic package – from visual assets and interview opportunities to relevant research statistics. It helps the journalist visualise the story (and give you the best chance of landing that coverage!)
- Follow up
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a follow up call or email. Journalists, just like the rest of us, are very busy people and can miss an email in their inbox. It’s important to remember if you don’t get a response, that doesn’t always mean it’s a no, they just have a more pressing story to file. Shoot a short and sharp follow up email, or, even better, pick up the phone to see if what you’re offering is of interest. You can chat them through your pitch, possibly workshop the idea with them and (more often than not) get immediate feedback.