In the dynamic world of public relations, effective media pitching is a skill that can make or break your success. Crafting the perfect pitch is an art that requires research, strategy, and an understanding of the media landscape. I recently attended a webinar hosted by the PR net, called “The Publishing POV” with Claudia Ribeiro, founder and publisher of Lifestyle Magazine. We had the chance to chat with Claudia and similar journalists to get an inside scoop on their POV (point of view) regarding content, distribution, readership and what it takes to be successful in today’s increasingly challenging media landscape. Thanks to their insight, along with plenty of research and practice in the office, we’ve compiled a guide of best practices to help with your pitching.
Whether you’re a seasoned PR pro or just starting out, mastering these dos and don’ts is essential. These best practices and pitfalls to avoid can be helpful for those who, like me, are still learning and looking to improve their outreach to journalists and media outlets.
Research, Research, Research: Before you even think about crafting a pitch, take the time to research your target media outlets and journalists. Understand their beats, writing or production styles, and the types of stories they cover. Tailor and personalize your pitch to align with their coverage topics and audience.
Craft a Compelling Subject Line: Your email subject line is the first thing journalists see. Make it attention-grabbing, concise, and relevant to the pitch. A well-crafted subject line can significantly increase your email open rates.
Personalize Your Pitches: Address and greet journalists by name and reference their recent work or interests as research findings allow.
For example, a pitch that says, “Loved your recent piece on X. With that in mind, I have a story from Y regarding Z that could be of interest to your readers/viewers.”
Keep It Concise: Get to the point quickly in your pitch and avoid unnecessary details. Explain why the story is relevant and why their readers would be interested.
Provide Value: Make it clear how your pitch benefits the journalist’s audience. What’s in it for them? Highlight the unique angle, data, or expert insights that make your story worth covering.
Use Multimedia Wisely: Including images, videos, or infographics can enhance your pitch’s appeal. Ensure that these assets are easy to access and relevant to the story. We often attach pictures or a link to media selects.
Follow-Up (Politely): If you don’t get a response, it’s okay to send a polite follow-up email as your initial email might have been overlooked. We typically wait seven days before follow-up as a rule of thumb.
Don’t Spam Journalists: Avoid sending unsolicited pitches to journalists who don’t cover topics related to your pitch. This can damage your brand and/or agency’s reputation and make it less likely that your future pitches will be considered.
Avoid Specific Jargon: PR professionals often use industry jargon that journalists may not understand. Keep your language simple and accessible to a broad audience.
Don’t Be Pushy or Aggressive: Most journalists appreciate persistence but don’t cross the line by being pushy. Respect their time and decision to decline if that’s the case.
Avoid Typos and Errors: A poorly proofread pitch doesn’t reflect well on your professionalism. Always double-check your pitches for grammatical errors and typos.
Don’t Pitch the Same Story Everywhere: Tailor your pitches to the specific needs and interests of each media outlet. Sending the same pitch to multiple journalists can be perceived as lazy and insincere.
Avoid Overloading Information: Keep your pitch concise and focused. Too much information can overwhelm journalists. You can provide additional details upon request and/or with the follow-up.
Successful media pitching in public relations is a skill that comes with years of practice – and it often changes. Ultimately, the key to success lies in customization and authenticity. At the end of the day, we’re all humans (hopefully, thanks AI…) Journalists want to hear from real people with real stories. Be yourself, know your audience, and remain professional. Sooner or later, your pitch will land!