Journalists are busy people, and busy people make quick judgements about what to prioritise and what to ignore. In PR, writing quality content is only half the battle – you need to be able to sell it to key journalists for it to be read.
So how do you write the perfect pitch?
When structuring your pitch, think of it as a 30 second elevator pitch, you need to draw the journalist in immediately. You need a pithy headline, a compelling introduction, the main body copy needs to be interesting but concise, and a call to action at the end so the journalist knows what to do.
When pitching via email, subject lines are your first approach. Journalists get 100s of pitches a day, so aim to make it as sharp as possible. Although subject lines should be compelling, they should also be clear about what you are pitching. No good media relations will come from over-selling or exaggerating a story to journalists.
When pitching an article, this is easy. The article title should accurately summarise the piece, and your pitch can fill in the blanks. If you are pitching an industry comment or a proactive briefing opportunity, you may need to use your critical brain. Ask yourself what challenge the comment is meeting, and ALWAYS use a keyword or topical reference for the target industry, ie. “How can businesses avoid a Kaseya-like ransomware attack?”
The Introduction (2-3 Short Sentences)
This is the most important part of the pitch. Just as the journalist you’re pitching to wants to hook their readers in, you are looking to catch their attention in the shortest time possible. A good introduction creates a question that your article then answers, engaging your chosen journalist to keep reading.
When writing your introduction, ask yourself two things:
- What moment or conversation does this fit into?
Consider the trends and news within the industry and engage with them. Has there been a major new incident recently that your pitch speaks to? In roughly a sentence, outline the trending conversation and what angle your client can bring to it.
- Why is this story of interest to their readers?
Clear signposting is key. Journalists want to know that your story is relevant to their audience, so illustrate how it is. For example, a business-focused magazine isn’t interested in the bits and bytes of how technology can protect passwords, but an article emphasising the importance of password hygiene as part of corporate cybersecurity training is exactly what a C-Suite reader might be interested in reading about.
The Summary (1-2 sentences)
Having drawn the journalist in with your introduction, this section is where you can secure their interest. In a few lines, summarise who the author of the article is, why they are a subject matter expert, and how the article answers the question you established in your introduction.
CTA (1-2 sentences)
So, you’ve caught the journalist’s interest, now it’s time to convert that into coverage. Pitches are formulaic, so this section is also a chance to show a bit of personality and friendliness.
Think about what you are asking the journalist to do. If you are just looking for them to take the content, great! Simply offer the word count and include the article below. But maybe you want to leverage the article to create an interview opportunity, or even to build a relationship. In this case, offer yourself as a helpful partner in the process. Every successful pitch enhances your client’s reputation, but it also builds your professional relationship with journalists – so never over-promise and then under deliver!
For more information about how C8 Consulting can help to create compelling campaigns and kick-start conversations for your business, or to understand more about the social and digital activities that we are undertaking for our clients please feel free to contact us.