Recently, our team received a media relations pitch for a contributed blog post on Instagram tricks for artists to attain career success.
The grammar and spelling error-riddled pitch was very polite.
And it was politely declined in return.
Most of the pitches we receive are ice cold, like this one.
We have no idea who the author is, and we’ve never seen them engaging with the community.
They demonstrate a complete lack of understanding our audience (hint: it’s not artists).
And they pitch us content we don’t publish, such as infographics.
If only they took the time to read our contributor guidelines.
Or an article of any kind on our site.
Batching and blasting out a cold, canned media relations pitch like this one does more than cost you an article placement.
Editors and journalists on the receiving end of these generic pitches will often remember you and decline to work with you on anything in the future.
I’ve heard communicators try to justify this approach with it being more time efficient than crafting tailored media relations for each publication.
But is following up on a dozen duplicative pitches blasted out randomly to a PR outreach list really more time effective?
No! Of course not!
Crafting a personal, targeted pitch is more likely to win you a media placement—and improve your journalist relationships.
How to Craft a Personalized Media Relations Pitch
Let me give you an example.
This is an oldie, but a goodie…and it works extraordinarily well.
In 2009, my now good buddy, Steve Strauss, wrote an article for USA Today titled, “Should Entrepreneurs Twitter? Uh, No.”
To say it caused an uproar is putting it mildly.
People, mostly on Twitter, were fired up and took to the social network to criticize him.
I remember thinking, “Wow. How short-sighted.” But I didn’t actually say that to him.
He had four reasons entrepreneurs shouldn’t tweet…so I wrote—in the comments—four reasons they should.
To his credit, he read the comments and, after an introduction by a mutual friend, he called me.
We spent about an hour on the phone, while I walked him through Twitter and explained how it could be used to grow a business.
The following week, he wrote an article titled, “Twitter for Small Business…Reconsidered” (in which he called me charming, which I wear as a badge of honor!).
And, to this day, we have a great relationship.
All because I did more than criticize him. I offered a different point-of-view and I was respectful.
I crafted something that was extremely personalized and it was only for him.
Not every other business reporter talking about Twitter.
Creating personalized media relations pitches involves more than just having a cursory understanding of an editor or journalists editorial guidelines.
To draft a truly personalized pitch, follow these steps.
Follow the Journalist’s Work
What have they most recently written that relates to your pitch topic? How can your pitch act as a follow-on to that piece? This becomes the angle for your pitch.
How can your pitch act as a follow-on to that piece? This becomes the angle for your pitch.
This becomes the angle for your pitch.
It used to be we’d have to subscribe to the newspaper or magazine.
We’d wait six weeks for it to start showing up.
We’d comb through the articles until we found something relevant.
And then we could pitch.
Today, all it takes is a few keystrokes and you have all of the information you need.
Make the Subject Line All About Them
Michael Smart has a brilliant formula for email subject lines that get opened and responded to.
At the crux of it, it’s about making the subject line about the journalist and praising or commenting on what they’ve recently written.
Journalists often only get an email about a post if someone has a complaint about not being included, or being included in an unfavorable light.
Share Your Thoughts On Their Work
What did you enjoy or find useful?
What additional information do you have that is relevant to a future follow-up to that article?
Pitch the journalist on being part of the future content creation on the topic.
Send the Email to the Right Inbox
I have a very good friend who never checks email.
If you want to reach him, you get him through Facebook Messenger, or not at all.
This means his inbox is full of people who have zero clues how to reach him—and he’s fine with that.
Many journalists work the same way.
While they have a business email address—one that is found in Cision or the other media list databases—it’s not the inbox they check.
Make sure you know what the journalist’s preferred email address is and send your pitch there.
Engage on the Topic Publicly
Warm up the journalist pre-pitch by leaving a comment on the article or sharing it in social with a comment.
If they reply, make sure your pitch incorporates any response or feedback into it.
Further, by following and engaging with the journalist on social media, you’ll see when they are actively looking for sources and be able to respond quickly.
By taking the time to build journalist relationships, you’ll more easily craft personalized pitches.
These tailored pitches, in turn, will increase your media relations success rate.
And you’ll help improve the profession’s public image at the same time.