How to Perfect Your Pitch to a Journalist: 5 Top Tips
So, you’re wanting to contact a journalist but you have no idea how? Well, first of all, make sure you’re contacting them on a subject they specialise in. If you have a campaign you believe they will be interested in featuring, be sure to triple check their sector; what are their recent articles about? Are they posting frequently? And finally, do you think they will truly be interested in featuring your campaign? In other words, is it news to them?
For example, if you’re attempting to pitch a digital PR campaign on the best destinations to visit in 2019 to an entertainment journalist, they just won’t pay any attention.
With that said here are five tips to follow in order to pitch to a journalist and get your campaign on top-tier, high domain authority (DA) sites:
1) Keep it succinct - if you can’t summarise it in 10 words, neither can they
It’s vital to understand that journalists receive over 1,000 emails per day, so if your subject line and intro don’t grab them, they most likely won’t even think about featuring it. This is where the 10-word rule comes in.
Ask yourself: can I explain this campaign in 10 or fewer words?
If you can’t do this, look at re-angling your pitch. Put yourself in a journalists’ shoes - you’re receiving lots of emails, so awareness isn’t going to be high - an email needs to grab you immediately and essentially give you a headline in seconds.
Top tip: Summarise in 10 words or fewer
2) Don’t be overly formal, but don’t act chummy
You wouldn’t go up to someone in the street you’ve never met before and pretend to be their best friend, so don’t do it over email either.
Thinking a journalist wants to feature your content doesn’t mean they actually do - they have hundreds of emails bouncing into their inbox each day so they haven’t got time to reply to every single one and feature every campaign they get pitched.
A way to go about this is to get straight to the point and tell the story in the most simplistic (but also creative) way possible. If you’ve got a great angle that is both newsworthy and falls into the journalist's sector, then put it right at the top of your outreach email.
Top tip: Get straight to the point
3) React to ongoings in their industry
Now it’s important to be aware of ongoings in a variety of industries; you’re a PR, it’s kind of your job. But, be sure to really research what’s going on if you’re pitching to a bunch of sectors at one given time.
For example, if you’ve got a story for the travel press, but there have just been a load of flight prices slashed by a particular airline, getting through on that day is going to be particularly tough - so why not just hold off?
Timing is key and journalists need stories quickly, so if your campaign hooks onto the back of a national awareness day, or something has entered the media stratosphere, find a way to piggyback it and you could just watch your campaign go from 5 links to 105...
Top tip: Always keep an eye on Twitter and news sites
4) Be tactical when exchanging emails - don’t give them everything all at once (you need a reason to follow up with them)
Journalists receive lots of emails so it’s very easy for your pitch to get lost in the midst of their overcrowded inbox. A way to tackle this? Always follow up.
But, disguise your follow-up as a ‘follow-on’ and offer them something else to accompany the campaign. This could be a quote, a photograph or even an additional statistic that hooks onto a reactive news story. If there is anything extra that you can provide the journalist that will make your story bounce back to the top of their inbox, then use it.
Top tip: Always hold something back
5) Pitching isn’t supposed to be easy, so don’t feel disheartened
PR is a creative industry and there is no formula for success - you either have a great campaign that is going to fly, or you don’t.
Just because your campaign doesn’t work with one journalist, or you don't hear back from the 200+ contacts you've outreached to, it doesn’t mean it is a complete fail. At the same time don’t be afraid to fail, because failing will make you look at things from a different angle - and we know PR is all about the angle…
Top tip: Keep pushing your campaign!