The Art of Pitching Your Story

The Art of Pitching Your Story


Many believe that the traditional pitch is dead — but we beg to differ. A clear and concise pitch is a key factor in getting your point across to the media. Properly pitching the media is an art form that involves both describing the root of a story and sparking the idea that the story is of interest or importance to the audience. Read on for a few tips on how to get your pitch noticed and gain the media coverage you’re seeking.

Best Practices

First things first: The primary objective of a pitch is to entice the media enough to get your news in front of people. Not all press releases are created equal. Pitches need to effectively and efficiently hit the highlights. So, always make sure to give the audience who, what, where, when and why. Tell a story, why do I care? The pitch should be as clear and concise as possible to catch the readers’ eye. Based on the responses of more than 600 polled journalists, Business Wire’s 2016 “Media Blueprint” study outlines tricks of the trade such as optimal pitching times, platforms to effectively reach media and methods to help build relationships that last.

Optimal Pitching Times

The evidence found in Business Wire’s largest study reveals where and how to best reach today’s journalists. According to the study, Tuesday morning is the best time to pitch media, and Thursday evening is the worst. So, for the best chances of coverage, make sure to catch those journalists bright and early Tuesday morning.

A Flood of Emails

Members of the media receive an overwhelming amount of emails each day, and their time is precious. To combat these challenges, PR professionals should make attempts to stand out by personalizing their email pitches and quickly getting to the point in their communications. Outline the story you’re proposing in your email pitch, and make sure to include what you can offer to support its creation in terms of sources, stats, breaking news, etc.

What Should the Ideal Email Pitch Include?

A successful email pitch starts with an impactful subject line that will catch the reader’s eyes. Remember the recipient — the person whose inbox is filled daily with pitches. Most will quickly scan over the subject lines in their inbox and go from there. If your subject line doesn’t stand out, it will likely be overlooked, and the email will be deleted. Be specific – catch the readers’ interest, why should they read your pitch? Don’t be too wordy, keep your subject line to about 6 to 10 words and get to the point – illicit curiosity. And most importantly, sound like a person, not a robot.

Next, know who you’re pitching to, and customize your message to that journalist. There is little that’s less inspiring than feeling like you’ve received another typical chain email. Take the extra time to read the media member’s past stories to be sure he or she is the right person to pitch. Watch their videos or listen to their podcasts, and include a mention of their previous work to show that you’ve done your homework.

Detach From the Attachment

Viruses and malware have made it rare for someone to open an attachment from someone they don’t know. Knowing this, avoid sending attachments unless the person asks for them specifically. Instead, send everything in the body of your email, when possible. Photos, graphics and infographics are among the few supplements journalists consider important.

When Email Doesn’t Get Their Attention, Consider Social Media

Business Wire’s 2016 “Media Blueprint” study reveals journalists’ preferred methods for receiving breaking news. An overwhelming 91% prefer receiving a press release, whether that involves an alert with a link to the press release (69%) or a newswire press release (22%).

Social media posting is also growing in importance, especially as a younger generation represents the future of our newsrooms. “The tempo of the change in the digital media space brings both challenges and opportunities for organizations as they look to share their news with the key audiences they need to reach,” said Scott Fedonchik, VP of marketing at Business Wire.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are the three most popular platforms for journalists to seek out information. Utilizing Twitter requires a new level of finesse that limits you to 140 characters. That means including key points that will be perceived as intriguing while leaving room for questions at the end must be short and sweet.

Appropriate Follow-up

Professionals at Forbes suggest following up with the media, but doing so gently. Following up once or twice after sending the pitch is recommended, preferably with phone calls. (Gasp! Who calls anymore?) Let’s face it — emails get lost in inboxes; picking up a phone makes a much greater impact and shows you are eager to support the coverage you’re pitching. A rule of thumb when following up is to wait at least 72 hours after the initial pitch. Reporters are busy like the rest of us, so if they don’t answer your initial call, don’t be discouraged. Leave a voicemail and try again in a couple of days.

Know When to Move On

If your pitch is declined, thank the media member for his or her time, and try to maintain a relationship that allows you to reach out with future editorial opportunities. If he or she doesn’t answer any of your emails or phone calls, research additional editorial contacts and reach out to them. Before doing so, it may be wise to double-check your work to make sure none of it lands on the “PR Professional Pet Peeves” list from the “Media Blueprint” survey. The survey found that “not knowing your beat” is the number one mistake made, followed by typos in a pitch, not having a press release, mailing media kits or swag, and/or not including multimedia.

Secure Your Future

Whether you were able to seal the deal or not, it’s important to remain respectful and professional. Continue to research and stay up-to-date on the media member’s recent posts, and occasionally share them on social media. Keeping in touch via social media is a noninvasive way to assure media members that you are still interested in working with them in the future.

Organic Editorial Content Still Reigns Supreme

Pitching is hard, and getting coverage can be even harder. But once you’ve found your groove and strengthen those key media relationships, you’ll see the reward. Organic editorial content still trumps paid advertising any day in regard to influencing consumer behaviors and perception.

While pitching the media may seem simple, in reality, there’s a lot to keep in mind, especially when pitching via email. It’s important to stay mindful of who and what you’re pitching in order to successfully procure positive media coverage.

If you’re unsure of your next steps and want to get that media coverage you deserve, contact us today — we can help you find your voice.