Writing a media pitch is a necessity if you want to get your story in front of the right people. It’s one of the most effective ways to get exposure for your brand, and build credibility with your audience—but only IF it’s written correctly. Otherwise, it’s likely to end up in a reporter’s trash or spam folder, never to be seen again.
The vast majority of editors and reporters are getting pitched upwards of a dozen or more times per day. So, how do you write a media pitch that makes an impression? (And a good one, at that)
Do your research. Know who you’re pitching. Make sure they align with your brand and your target audience.
The first step to writing a winning media pitch is doing your research. This can be time-consuming and tedious, but it’s worth it! You have to know who you are pitching and why they should care about your story.
The first thing I do when preparing for a media pitch is look at the publication’s website and social accounts to get an idea of what kind of content they typically cover.
Do they publish lots of longform essays or short news stories? Are they heavy on political coverage? Are there any recurring themes in their editorial calendar (e.g., “Women in X” series)?
You should also check out their Twitter feed or Instagram account–wherever reporters are sharing their work– because this will give another window into what kinds of stories resonate with them most deeply, as well as provide insight into how often reporters tweet/post new content each day (or week).
Relevance is key. Why is your pitch relevant to this journalist and their audience?
Relevance is key, but it’s often overlooked by well-meaning brands and business owners who think their product, service or idea is the best thing since sliced bread.
Why is your media pitch relevant to this journalist and their audience? And when I say relevant, I mean really, really relevant. Why should the reporter care about your pitch, and better yet, why will their audience care?
For example, if you’re pitching the media a story about how kids are getting more addicted to social media, don’t send your pitch to someone who writes about dogs or cats (and vice versa). It’s also important that you make sure that whatever you’re pitching aligns with the publication’s editorial focus–if they publish short stories, don’t give them a 2-page essay as your media pitch.
If there seems like there might be some overlap between what they already cover and what you want them to cover, think about why yours would be worth adding on top of all the other stories they already receive each day/week/month: does your story add something new? Does it fill in gaps in existing coverage? Is there an angle that hasn’t been explored before but would benefit from being explored now?
Related Story: How to Get Featured in Huffington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur
Create a media pitch with a strong email headline.
This is pretty self explanatory, but if your email subject line is boring, your email won’t get opened to begin with. Your subject line should be descriptive, clear and concise.
“The best way to get someone’s attention is by asking them something,” says writer Jessica Williams (not the comedian). Think about what you want to know from the reader and frame it as a question in your headline: “How do I write an email pitch?” or “How can I make my media pitch more compelling?”
You can also use current events or trends as inspiration for your headlines–a recent example might be: “Followup story on trends at CES 2023.”
Start with a personal introduction. Bonus points if you can personalize it beyond just the person’s name.
If you’re going to pitch a story, it’s important that you know who you’re pitching to. This means knowing their name and the publication they work for–and if possible, their interests as well.
If your contact has written about similar topics in the past, mention those stories. If not, comment on how excited you are about the possibility of working together on this new piece (because who doesn’t love hearing themselves talk?).
Keep media pitches short and sweet. The news cycle is fast paced, so the shorter the better.
Keep your media pitch short and sweet. No one wants to read a 500 word pitch, or a rambling diatribe about yours or your client’s brand. The news cycle is fast paced, so the shorter the better.
Bonus points if you can use some bullet points to make it even more organized and concise.
Give them “what’s in it for them.” Creating a win-win situation for the reporter or journalist is imperative.
If you want to be a trusted source for the media, give them what’s in it for them. Creating a win-win situation for the reporter or journalist is imperative. This means building relationships with journalists at various outlets and understanding what motivates each of them.
For example, some reporters may be interested in stories about new technologies while others may prefer to write about issues that affect their local community. In order to build trust with these individuals over time (and get better responses), you should have an idea of what they are looking for when pitching your story idea, and become their trusted go-to source for that topic.
The best media relationships are the ones that benefit both the brand (or the PR pro) and the media contact over and over again.
Offer something exclusive or exclusive access to a guest or expert.
Offer the editor or reporter something exclusive or exclusive access to a guest or expert.
In today’s media landscape, you need to offer something that other outlets can’t get their hands on–and it needs to be something that the reporter (and more importantly, their audience) will care about.
Offer an exclusive interview with an influential figure in the field of your story (e.g., an actor who plays a major role in your documentary). If there’s not enough time for an in-person sit-down, consider doing remote interviews via Skype instead. Or maybe you have access to some footage or some new industry data that no one else does–that would be worth sharing!
If you try all this, and you’re still not getting results with your media pitching campaign, it may be time to adjust your expectations. In a blog post I wrote about media pitching last year, the advice I gave still rings true today, “ Good publicity doesn’t happen overnight, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just wrong. Adjust your expectations and stay the course. The best media campaigns are done with consistency, over time.”