Three Steps to the Perfect Pitch

Three Steps to the Perfect Pitch

As we celebrate @National Publicist Day, let’s shine a light on how to create the perfect media pitch – one that snags the attention of a journalist and compels them to interview your source and write about your story idea. This is no easy feat – today there are fewer journalists covering more beats, faster news cycles, and a growing number of news outlets. We at ShinePR approach crafting the perfect, persuasive media pitch using the following three tips:

1. Know the journalists you are pitching

Developing a tailored media list based that includes journalists that cover your story topic is a key first step. Take the time to get to know the journalists and publications you plan to pitch. Learn about journalists’ beats, which outlets they write for (many journalists write for more than one), read current articles published, follow them on social media, and see what conversations they join and what they say. For example, if you are pitching a story about artificial intelligence and how it can be used to make smarter business decisions, you will want to look for publications and journalists that follow, investigate, and write about AI, machine learning, and the impacts to businesses that embrace the technology.

2. Lead with an attention-grabbing subject line

The subject line is key to getting the journalist to open your email pitch. It is the beginning of your relationship with a journalist.

  • Be direct, clear, and concise.
  • Consider your subject line to be a mini pitch and include what makes the story idea sizzle in the subject line.
  • Make a bold move and based on what you now know about the journalist, craft a clever subject line that demonstrates you have taken the time to learn about the journalist’s articles and recent activities. For example, if you plan to pitch a story idea to a journalist who has recently shared a social media post about a recent trip, consider a subject line that plays off the post: “Beach Breakfast Looked Delicious”.

3. Personalize your pitch

Journalists receive countless pitches a day so it’s important that your pitch sparks curiosity – enough to stand out in a sea of pitches. The best way to do this is to personalize your pitch. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Avoid mass outreach and send individual, tailored pitches. Journalists can smell a generic pitch a mile away.
  • Reference the connection your pitch topic has to a recently published article by the journalist or to the publication where you are seeking to be printed.
  • If you recently read an article or book by the journalist or saw the journalist interviewed, be sure to briefly comment on it in your intro, even if it is off pitch topic.
  • Celebrate milestones. If you know a journalist has recently switched outlets or received a promotion or new responsibilities, be sure to offer your congratulations in your intro.

By personalizing your pitch, you are making a memorable, personal connection with the journalist – one that builds trust and can lead to incremental media relationships.

4. Follow up with patience

It’s always important to include a call to action in your pitch, but proactive follow up is important. You want to give the journalist 3 to 5 days to see and read your email as they may be on a deadline or even out of the office when your pitch comes in. There may be cases where your story idea is time-sensitive, and in that case, your follow up window may be shorter. Finally, if you land your pitch, be sure to thank the journalist – and connect with them on social media so you grow your network as well as theirs. A single story covered in a media outlet with strong reach can help amplify a brand or an individual, setting a course to increased visibility for the brand as well as leaders. And it all starts with one persuasive, carefully crafted pitch.

Do you have media pitch tips to share?

Laura Wessells

Laura Wessells has been a Brand, Marketing and PR leader for more than 25 years. She co-founded ShinePR in 2020 to continue her passion of helping cause-driven brands tell their story.