Media relations is our bread and butter in the PR industry. There’s nothing better than a well-placed media hit that’s authentic, engaging and delivered directly to your target audience. But with an increasingly competitive media landscape and a growing desire by many brands to tackle multiple markets at once, honing the perfect media pitch can be tricky. Here are 10 tips for crafting a media pitch email that actually works.
1. Research before you pitch.
This is critical. Take time to research the outlet and the contact you are reaching out to before sending a pitch. If the outlet has recently covered your pitch topic or the person you are contacting doesn’t cover that beat, they’re likely to delete your email and not think twice about it.
2. Spell their name correctly.
As obvious as it seems, when we ask reporters and editors the most common reason they toss a pitch, it’s because the sender misspelled their name. A mistake like this gives the impression that you didn’t take the time to do your research or you just don’t care enough to get it right. A slight distinction between ‘Molly’ and ‘Mollie’ or ‘Nicholas’ and ‘Nicolas’ can make all the difference in landing coverage.
3. Always hyperlink directly to the client’s website.
Your goal is to make the journalist’s job as easy as possible. They receive thousands of email pitches a day and may not take the time to consider yours if more information is not easily accessible. Additionally, requiring them to search for more info on their own increases the chances of misinformation being printed if they stumble onto the wrong website.
4. Don’t attach any documents or images. Link to them.
Attachments from unknown senders frequently get blocked by spam filters. When sending a press release, either paste the copy into the body of the email under your signature or link to a file-sharing site like Dropbox. It can be helpful to go ahead and build a media kit in a Dropbox folder that includes images, videos, company bios and other crucial assets and link to it so the recipient has everything they need on the frontend.
5. Offer them something for free.
Not necessarily a gift – many hard news writers will not accept gifts due to journalistic integrity – but offer to give them a way to experience the service/product/company you are pitching for themselves so they can better report on it. This could include a comped dinner at a new restaurant, free trial at a fitness studio or coffee date with a new CEO.
6. Ask what they are working on and offer to be a resource.
Journalists frequently pitch their own story ideas to their editors and may already have a big piece in the works when you reach out to them. Offering your client up as a resource for their current piece or future stories can land you the coverage you want without seeming self-promotional. It also helps establish a more long-standing relationship between the client and the writer that could result in future inclusions.
7. Explain why your client is an expert.
Why should they feature or interview your client over their competitors? Make sure you have a boilerplate with key messages ready to go and position the client as a thought leader in the industry. If a journalist gets a pitch for an interview that doesn’t explain why the client is a trusted source on a topic, they’re likely to pass.
8. Offer exclusivity.
It’s no secret that media outlets love a good scoop. When pitching a bylined column, mention in your email that the piece has not been offered to anyone else and they will have exclusive rights to it. When making a big announcement, be strategic in selecting one outlet to break the news and let them know they will have a set period of time before you reach out to other publications.
9. Customize your pitch.
As tempting as it can be to copy and paste or use a mass email distributor to send out hundreds of pitches at a time, it’s usually pretty obvious to a journalist when they’re just another name in your Excel spreadsheet. Instead, think quality over quantity and take the time to customize a pitch by referencing a recent story they’ve written as a reason you think they’d be interested in covering your client or asking a personal question based on your experience with them.
10. Remember they are human.
Writers, editors, producers, bloggers, influencers – at the end of the day, we’re all human and whoever you’re pitching will appreciate your recognition of that. Be conversational but professional in your email and don’t be afraid to follow up politely if you don’t receive a response. Many journalists appreciate reminders, especially about stories that are time sensitive.