In PR, we are tasked with spreading our clients’ messages through content that will be potentially visible to every corner of the world. Of course, this is no easy feat as the most important aspect of getting content published is ensuring it is interesting enough to catch the attention of the gatekeepers of the news: editors and journalists.
Indeed, the importance of good pitch writing cannot be underestimated, but when it works, there is no better feeling than seeing that reply of acceptance.
Pitching is difficult and more often than not, you are competing against hundreds, if not thousands, of other brands for that glimpse in the spotlight. If you are struggling to stand out from the crowd, here are some pointers to help change your pitching fortunes:
Is it interesting?
The most common way to communicate with reporters, especially in the COVID-era, is via email, so ensure you have an engaging but succinct subject line – ideally no more than 12 words. Remember, you only have a matter of seconds to catch a journalist’s eye before it joins the millions of other pitches that flood their inbox. Therefore, be creative, different – even sensationalise the heading, but never lie.
Furthermore, is the topic you are trying to sell unique and interesting? If you don’t find it stimulating, how do you expect others to? At this juncture, be sure to have a colleague review the pitch, as nothing beats having a second opinion to brainstorm ideas on how to best package the content. They can also provide a sanity check for any grammar and spelling mistakes.
Does it get to the point?
The news, like the newsroom they operate in, is fast paced, forever changing and unpredictable, so editors and journalists are on limited time to find a story. They don’t have hours to spend reading paragraphs upon paragraphs of text. Therefore, writing a short summary of the content you are trying to pitch is best. Something that is easily digestible and straight to the point.
As a rule of thumb, keep pitches to one paragraph of 4-5 sentences, giving an outline of the angle of the story, its significance and importance, and what the audience will learn from it. Having a supporting stat included in the pitch also helps reiterate the point you are trying to make.
Have you done your research?
Now that you have established the pitch and are happy it is stimulating, concise, and conveys the message you want, it’s time to research your target outlet. This is to better understand whether your article is the ideal fit for the publication and its audience. If the two are not aligned, then your pitch will simply fall on deaf ears. By executing this step correctly, you will be showing that you understand the story. This will be appreciated by the journalist and gives you a better chance of having your content selected and featured.
Pitching is its own pillar in the PR pantheon and if you master it, both your clients and the journalists will love you for it. With that said, best of luck with your pitching endeavours.