Our main goal as public relations professionals is to secure media coverage for clients, but with the rise of technology over the years and the 24-hours news cycle, members of the media are busier than ever. It’s unfortunately become increasingly harder to grab the media’s attention.
For every journalist, there are about six public relations professionals sending pitches, which can add up to almost 300 emails a day. Now, more than ever, it’s important to not only build relationships with the media, but ensure pitches are attention-grabbing.
When trying to secure impactful coverage for clients, generic, impersonalized pitches won’t get you very far. Learning the skill of pitching and finding the right contacts comes with practice. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of mastering the art of a tailored pitch, there are a few methods that can help garner media attention and secure successful outcomes.
Consider the four recommendations below for turning your pitch into an impressive story:
Blindly pitching is not only ineffective, but it could land a PR professional on a “Today in Bad PR Pitches” social media or blog roundup or result in a journalist blocking or blacklisting you. There’s also the possibility of being completely ignored. Know who the writer is, what type of stories he/she/they write and make sure the topic specifically fits the journalist. Go back at least one year into the writer’s history to see what’s been covered. Journalist beats can change over time, so taking time to research will give you a better idea of their recent articles. Although this process seems tedious, the writer will appreciate the time taken out to read their content and ensure they are the proper contact for the pitch.
Getting a journalist to click on your email is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome. The key is to create a compelling subject line that makes them want to learn more. With the amount of emails writers and editors receive each day, it’s best to make sure your subject line is short, catchy and to the point. Following up? State that. Reaching out to a freelance writer to cover a story for a specific publication? Call the publication out in the subject line. If a subject line is misleading or unclear, the chances of your email getting passed over is more likely. Subject lines need to be concise, so make sure you prioritize which information comes first.
The use of automated email services makes it easier to mass blast a group of journalists and hope that something sticks. The convenience of sending a generic, impersonal pitch to a full list of editors is attractive when a person’s to-do list is (what feels like) 10 pages long. It may seem like a time saver, but sending a mass blasted email usually won’t secure quality results. The time you save by taking this approach is lost when you have to follow up with journalists who do not respond or need to go back to the drawing board to find more relevant contacts for your story.
Highlight pieces of content written by the targeted journalist in a pitch. Doing this will 1) show the writer that you did your homework and 2) offer back up as to WHY the journalist should consider this story. Consider this approach: “Hey [Insert Journalist’s Name Here] – I read your story on XYZ (don’t just state the title; call something out that isn’t found in the first few sentences) and I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in covering XYZ.
Adding too much information can have the same effect as a poorly tailored pitch that doesn’t include enough detail. When pitching, be sure the email contains valuable information that’s easily readable. Focus on the who, what and why in a few short sentences, adding links to additional information if necessary. Writers will reach out for additional details if they’re interested in pursuing a story. If a journalist has to search to find the pitch’s main point, it’ll be discarded or ignored.
Media pitching can be a challenge, as there isn’t an exact science to gaining media coverage. It takes the right mix of best practices and a bit of luck to secure interest from journalists in many cases. However, taking a few extra steps to perfect your pitches can assist with breaking through journalists’ inundated inboxes. At the end of the day, clients want quality media coverage and journalists want their content read. A tailored and personalized pitch can result in a successful campaign outcome and position your brand as a thought leader.
Regular media coverage keeps your brand at the forefront of your customers’ and prospects’ minds. Mulberry can help you secure local, trade and tier 1 coverage. Let’s talk today!
Jessie Koerner is a Senior Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She has a deep passion for media relations and content creation.