Quick tips to get your pitch right
Just to paint a really clear picture, journalists get hundreds of pitches each day. They can come in via email, text message, phone call, Twitter DM, LinkedIn and maybe some journos are still using fax.
When I first started in the industry I used to send faxes to news desks. It was just at the end of that era, but I do remember doing it. Some things have changed since then - but a lot hasn’t.
Here is the best tip I can give you that hasn’t changed in all that time...journalists are humans. Treat them that way.
Getting hundreds of pitches a day would give me a panic attack, and I’m sure even for seasoned journalists it can be tiring - so make it easy for them. It will also make it easier for your story or your client’s story in the long run and help you build better relationships based on trust.
Get the timing right; different media outlets have different cycles. Don’t send a pitch when a journo is on deadline or a producer’s show is on air. It will get lost in their emails and if they’re having a bad day they will be annoyed you sent it to them at a bad time. Find out how their newsroom runs.
Send it to the right person and spell their name right! The industry moves quickly so if you’re unsure of who to send it to then call the news desk and ask. Be friendly and they will help you. If you send it to a journalist that doesn’t cover that subject matter they’re more likely to delete the email than to forward it on to the right person. If they do forward it on for you, make sure to thank them!
Give the story in dot points. Put yourself in their shoes - if your were getting that many pitches a day your eyes would likely glaze over with long paragraph emails, so write it in a way they will actually read. A good test I use is - how would I explain the story to my mum in 3 dot points? That helps me get the the crux of the news and helps a journo decide if they are going to take it or not.
If you reposition your thinking from what you believe journalists “need to know” to what a specific journalist will be interested in, by understanding what that journalist’s audience will be in, you will be a useful source of information for that journo and not just someone they feel is spamming them. This not only leads to better outcomes for your story, it also drives better relationships and ongoing trust between the you or your client and the journalist.