By Christy Marion
Creating a perfect pitch takes time and no small amount of effort.
It must be thorough enough to get the main point across, yet concise enough the journalist doesn’t get bored and click the delete button.
And it doesn’t stop there.
After you’ve written the perfect pitch, you have to get the journalist interested enough to have a conversation with your client. There are no guarantees of success, of course. But we can tell you that these five things will guarantee whoever you’re pitching to will respond with a big, fat “no.”
Five Things to Avoid When Pitching the Media
- Misspelled name. Accidents happen, but a misspelled name shouldn’t. Journalists appreciate personalized emails, so if you can’t get their name right, understand your email probably won’t make it very far.
- They don’t even cover that. Do your research. If you manage to get a reply from a journalist who doesn’t cover that area, it will most likely be to inform you you’re wrong. Platforms such as Muckrack and Cision offer a background on journalists’ beats and let you know how they prefer to be contacted. Take advantage of those tools.
- Lack of client knowledge. As a PR professional, your job could involve sending multiple pitch emails a week. Nevertheless, it’s also your job to be able to speak to a journalist intelligently on the area they cover. If a journalist requests a conversation to learn more about your client, and you can’t answer fully and with confidence, that will be as far as the pitch goes.
- That is one awful subject line. If there’s one sure way to get your email overlooked, it’s writing a boring subject line. This is the first thing the journalist will see, so make it something to grab their attention. Adding their first and last name in the subject will make the email seem more personal, increasing the chance they will open it.
- You don’t have a relationship. Media relations is exactly that. It involves relationship building. Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes: They have people approaching them for meetings, interviews, and coverage opportunities all day, every day. The truth is, they only want to speak with people they know will give them a good story. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to form a meaningful relationship with every writer you reach out to, but make an effort to make a human connection and be sure to offer to meet in person to discuss how you can help each other.
Pitching is something of an art form and takes time to learn, but avoiding these mistakes is a good start. Be personal and authentic with your outreach.
If you send a mass email blast to multiple people, journalists will take notice and move on.
Once you receive coverage, keep that relationship going. It’s definitely a two-way street!