The Art of Crafting the ‘Perfect’ Pitch
Journalists receive hundreds of e-mail pitches per day, and yours is likely to get lost in the shuffle so it’s important to do what you can to make it stand out among the masses. The ‘perfect’ pitch would ideally capture your reader’s attention by providing an interesting piece of data, thought leadership, or other relevant content, such as a new case study. It’s important to look at pitching as the start of a mutually beneficial relationship where you strive to be a resource for the journalist, connecting them with the right people and content, and thus making their job easier.
Dos & Don’ts
It’s always important to remember that you are talking to another person, so you should avoid being too formal. Starting an e-mail with, “To Whom It May Concern,” is impersonal and it’s unlikely that a journalist will read anything past that greeting. Like most writing, it is important to know your audience and tailor your pitch to each individual. Take a few moments to research the journalist you are pitching to learn what types of news they cover and what they are currently writing about. PR professionals get a bad reputation, and in some cases, blacklisted when they pitch irrelevant news to media outlets.
The Subject and Hook
The subject line in your e-mail is related to the hook and the two are equally important. Crafting a few subject lines and alternating between them will help gauge which ones perform better than others. For example, one subject line might drum up a response over others that you have tried, even though your pitch is likely very similar.
The first two to three sentences of your pitch should capture the readers’ attention. Sometimes it’s effective to offer up an interesting piece of data or anecdote that relates to the main point of your pitch.
Now that you have the journalist’s attention, the next three to five sentences are your opportunity to offer more details about your news, case study, or thought leadership. Be sure to include a call to action at the end of your pitch if you are inviting them to an event you’re hosting or exhibiting at such as CEDIA or CES. It’s important to be very clear what it is that you’re offering or asking for so they know how to respond.
If you don’t hear back from a journalist within a few days or even a week, it is okay to follow up (once – or twice at the most!) with a gentle reminder that you’re looking for feedback or a response. Use your best judgment here by considering the number of e-mails you think are acceptable in your inbox. Including your original e-mail in the follow up will bump it to the top of their inbox and can increase the likelihood that you will receive a response.
Practice Makes Perfect
Pitch writing is an art that takes practice. It’s good to set a goal of how many pitches per week you are going to draft or send. Even if you do not receive immediate responses, practicing this unique writing style will help with creativity and to-the-point communication, and the smallest tweak to a pitch can make the difference between landing your client coverage.