The media pitch is an essential medium within the public relations (PR) industry. A successful pitch can benefit any PR agency and the organizations they are working for. However, developing a pitch that sticks is no easy task. Because pitching is about building relationships, bringing consistent, relevant, timely information to your target journalist makes all the difference.
Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when pitching your next press release to the media:
- Remember: Quality over quantity. Keeping your message concise, with the most important information available first, will help journalists absorb and assess information more efficiently. Reports show the average reporter or editor spends just 5 seconds reading a news release – so keep your pitch, and corresponding press release, as succinct as possible. When it comes to engaging with the reporter, focus on anticipating their questions with quick, verified answers at the ready, and always offer an additional spokesperson or subject-matter expert for further discussion in an interview.
- Edit and keep editing. When it comes to writing both a pitch and press release, it never hurts to have multiple sets of eyes reviewing before you hit ‘send’. Even the shortest emails can be easy to flub! Checking for grammar, spelling, and accuracy is an easy way to safeguard against a missed opportunity to get your story covered.
- Make it personal. The last thing that any journalist wants in their inbox is another mass-generated email. Although this is a quick and easy way to distribute release information, it can lack the impact that a personal ‘note’ would bring. Take the extra time to personally share your information to the journalists you know by name, and with whom you have a working relationship with first. Where available, reference a commonality or anecdote referencing your personal or professional connection in the intro of your email.
- Choose the wrong audience. Knowing the audience your release is directed toward is a guiding principle of every press outreach strategy. Not every writer is going to find your release to be in line with their interest and knowledge. Spend some time figuring out who will consider telling your story by knowing what subjects they often cover.
- Release at the wrong time. Timing is everything when it comes to distributing your press release. Sending it out on a Friday or close to a holiday significantly lowers the prospect of coverage. And, journalists are often overwhelmed with a barrage of emails on Mondays. So stick to the middle of the week: According to research, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to send press releases.
- Forget to do your research. Especially for news announcing a new product or initiative, sourcing is crucial. Omitting opportunities to hyperlink, fact-check, or provide counter-points ahead of anticipated questions leaves the journalist wanting more – and they don’t have time to do the work for you. Credibility is everything!