10 Do’s and Don’ts for Pitching in Media Relations
Pitching is nothing short of an art. Journalists hate to receive bad pitches and they’re not afraid to share those to their social networks – in fact, they seem to genuinely like talking about how they’ve received a pitch addressing a wrong person or pitches which were way too long for anyone to digest. So how do you pitch your business idea to the right person without ending up in email trash bin?
Here are 10 essential do’s and don’ts for successful pitching and building meaningful media relations:
1. Do your research
Instead of creating a massive list of all reporters working for all possible media outlets, it’s better to focus on industry publications which are actually relevant to your sector and target audience. Before pitching someone, check what they’ve been writing about lately and see whether your client’s narrative might be a good fit for the publication – if a journalist wrote about a similar product or company, be sure to mention it.
You need to have a good understanding of what’s newsworthy and the kinds of stories media look for. Editors’ needs should be high on your priority list. Tailoring your pitch to match their interests and preferences is the first step to getting attention of journalists – otherwise, you might be as well sending your pitch straight into a vacuum.
2. Don’t be overly eager
Some PR folks go a little crazy when pitching their stories to the media. Showing your interest and enthusiasm is key, but don’t go overboard. Don’t send the journalist any images or other materials, unless they specifically ask for them.
Don’t send packages with product samples unless you have a correct address and know that they will be received. Sending a package without prior notice won’t guarantee you a space in the editorial calendar.
3. Do send emails
If you thought calling would differentiate you from the competition in a positive way, think twice. Journalists and editors are busy professionals and there’s practically never a good time to pitch a product over the phone. If you’d like to call someone, it’s best to call the publication’s main number and get valuable information about your best and most relevant contact in this media outlet.
When writing emails, make sure you’re brief and to the point. It’s a good idea to reach out to a writer and mention their previous work – telling them how you came across their article is an excellent start. Show that you’re really interested in what they have to say and give them at least one good reason to start collaborating with you.
4. Don’t include heavy attachments
When drafting your messages, make sure to avoid adding heavy attachments. There are two good reasons for this. First, top media outlets receive lots of pitch emails every day and large attachments will only discourage journalists from downloading them and learning more about your client and your offer.
Second, you never know what sort of regulations are placed on company email inboxes – some don’t allow attachments weighing more than 5MB. And you wouldn’t want your email turned back just because of that.
5. Do actually meet up with the journalist
Many editors have a strict policy and prefer to respond to PR people they’ve actually met. That’s why it’s always a good idea to attend industry events and network with as many journalists and editors as you can. Networking doesn’t mean working – don’t pitch to journalists right then or you risk ending up on a blacklist. Meeting editors and writers in person, you’ll be able to show them that you can become their resource.
6. Don’t contact media on Twitter
If you reach out to a journalist through email and later send them a tweet, expect it to be considered a PR attack. You wouldn’t want to send this kind of message to media outlets, right? While contacting journalists through all possible channels should be discouraged, sending follow-up emails is a good idea. Keep them brief and make sure writers know that you’re persistent and are addressing them personally, not sending a mass email to all media outlets. Networking on Twitter is acceptable, pitching isn’t.
7. Do cater to journalists’ needs
When addressing writers, you should remember that what they value most is accurate reporting – all facts and figures should match and be written correctly. Showing that you know your way around a business by using the right vocabulary is the best method for catching editors’ interest.
You need to prove that you can be a valuable resource of industry information – that’s the kind of status your client brands are after. Double check your emails for spelling and if you’re using any complex or foreign words full of specific lettering or accents, make sure to get it right.
8. Don’t suggest meetings before imparting key information
Some PR people like to have a quick meeting with representatives of significant media outlets and only then give them the information valuable for their work. The truth is that you shouldn’t expect editors or journalists to be willing to meet you at all. They simply don’t have the time. That’s why it’s way better to offer key information up-front (that’s what most journalists actually prefer). Don’t keep them waiting – they’ll easily move on to another topic and another story.
9. Do offer exclusives
Offering an exclusive to just one journalist can be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. They’re happy to get a piece of breaking news they can write about before anyone else does, and you’ll enjoy the coverage.
One way to pitch an exclusive story is including the word “exclusive” or “breaking news” in your subject line. Inside the message you should clearly state that this information is under wraps until the day you’ll be making your announcement.
If a journalist decides that they’re interested in working on the story, let them know how you see your collaboration. Timing should be perfectly coordinated to make sure the writer is ready to publish the story as soon as your client makes the announcement.
10. Don’t be too persistent
If you write to one writer three times and receive no response, it’s a clear sign that they’re not interested. This is the moment when you let them go and move to another target. Trust me, you don’t want to look like a stalker.
Following these key do’s and don’ts will help you to build great relations with media outlets and enjoy lots of quality coverage that will catapult your client brands into fame and recognition.
By: Torri Myler
Torri Myler combines her interest and experience in PR, marketing and media relations with her love for writing. She is a team member at http://www.bankopening.co.uk/ – an UK directory of bank branches that features bank contact details plus opening and closing times.