Smaller newsrooms means that reporters are responsible for a lot more than just writing copy and sending it off to editors. There’s about five PR practitioners for every one reporter in the US.
That being said, in a recent episode of NPR’s All Songs Considered, host Robin Hilton said he receives about 400 emails a day. FOUR-HUNDRED. Now, that figure will vary based on the reporter and outlet, but it shows just how tough it can be to break through all the noise. The lack of response can make pitching feel like a daunting, unrewarding task.
Here are five things to remember when writing a pitch that will give you a better chance of getting coverage.
- Brevity—If someone is receiving hundreds of emails a day, the odds that they’re going to read a pitch with huge chunks of text are very slim. Get your point across up front, in as few words as possible and eliminate any fluff. If they’re interested in what you have to say, then, by all means, hit them with the paragraph.
- Clarity—Your company is “internationally recognized” a “world-class leader in…” a “premier company specializing in…”. Everyone trying to earn publicity for their client is pitching this way. Maybe your client really is the greatest company ever but by presenting them as such, you’re actually lumping them in with everyone else—not making them stand out. Using buzzwords or overused phrases will turn off most journalists immediately. It takes them more time to get through to the message if they must sift to jargon.
- Relevance—You may use a media database that tells you what the reporter covers but be wary as they aren’t always updated. If you want coverage from this person, go to their profile on the website and familiarize yourself with their coverage. You can even go to their LinkedIn which could let you know if they write for multiple outlets.
- Make it universal—Unless it’s huge company news of national appeal—like Amazon announcing the date of Prime Day—or the reporter doesn’t clearly see how it could appeal to the masses, many outlets won’t pick up a story about your clients’ greatness. Do some legwork, get creative, see what’s trending and pitch them a story, not part of a company bio.
- Check their contact info—If you’re trying to go another route for pitching—one that’s not e-mail— check first. Reporters who are vehemently against social media pitches will say it somewhere in their profiles. Likewise, many people dislike cold-call pitches. Respect their requests. If you don’t, you can forget about hearing from them.