No-brainer Tips to Send a Perfect PR Pitch to a Journalist
Getting stories picked up by the press is super-important if you want to communicate with the target audience and grow your business. But many entrepreneurs and PR people say that journalists and bloggers are giving them a hard time by rejecting or even ignoring their pitches all the time. The solution isn’t to give up.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the essential tips that can get you featured in your target publications.
A PR pitch is a short and concise message (it could be an email, letter, or phone call) offering a news story to a journalist or influencer. The main task of the pitch is to attract interest to the story and find out if the recipient is willing to use it.
Before you pitch anything, make sure you know what you want and who can help you. Your first steps would be setting a goal and making a list of influencers to reach out to.
Identify your goal
Take the time to understand what you’re trying to achieve.
Get traffic or backlink
Backlinks are among the top factors that affect Google rankings the most. If some other sites backlink to your site, people can discover it easier. But keep in mind that it’s important they’re relevant. For instance, if you sell music CDs, you wouldn’t want backlinks from the cosmetics website.
Be mentioned in the press for brand awareness
If you’re lucky to get mentions from reputable publishers, your brand perception will definitely improve.
Get new leads
Stories that make your products or services sound desirable can significantly increase your profits — assuming you’re targeting the right audience.
Make a list of journalists to reach out to
At this point, you can start looking for publications or influencers you’ll reach out to.
Google your topic
Even if you don’t know yet what your story will be about, don’t think it isn’t the best time to look for a journalist. Sometimes, creating your content with a specific individual in mind is much easier. Often, journalists are more interested in stories that perfectly match the subject they have covered before.
Explore competitors publications
It’s always good to know what your competitors are doing. This way, you can get the best content ideas in your niche — rather than starting from scratch. Also, using the right tools, you can identify high-ranking posts and find websites to go after. We will cover the tools in this article as well. Keep reading.
Before we dive into best practices, let’s see how an effective PR pitch should be structured.
Start with the lead
The lead is the angle into your story. Try to make it short and concise.
Types of leads
There are two types of leads: a news peg and a time peg. The first one is connected to a trending story or topic that relates to your content (what makes the story newsworthy?). For example, your story is somehow related to veganism, which is in trend now.
The second one represents an upcoming date or event (what makes the story timely?). Since media often shape content around significant or relevant dates (e.g., Developer Week in San Francisco, Dublin Tech Summit, Hurricane Katrina, etc. ), you can take advantage of these dates.
Add a direct call to action
Provide the reader with a clear call to action (CTA) in your journalist pitch email, so they don’t have to think too much. And don’t be afraid of looking too persistent and upfront. Using a straightforward CTA, you can even gain the respect of a busy journalist and, thus, increase your chances of getting what you want.
Pitch a value proposition
Another essential element of a successful PR pitch is the value proposition. In this paragraph, you should explain what’s in it for them and how the story would be interesting to their audience. Keep in mind that the value proposition needs to be about them, not about you.
Experts recommend avoiding the word “please” in your PR pitches because it might look like you’re begging them to use your story. Instead, quickly thank the recipient for their time, reaffirm your goal or add a CTA.
Sign off with a signature
Sign off with a unique email signature to make your email stand out and add a bit of your personality. Also, the email signature enables a journalist to do a bit of background checking before responding.
Do’s for your journalist pitch email
When you pitch to journalists, keep these tips in mind:
Offer the value
Your pitch has to offer the recipient value. Rather than explaining what you do and why your products or services are great, show the journalist how your story will drive traffic and resonate with their readers. In case you wrote something fresh, unique, and new, explain how your story will reach a new audience that the journalist hasn’t tapped into yet.
Why will the journalist’s readers be interested in your story?
Why will your content attract traffic and interest?
How will your story help the journalist reach their target audience?
Journalists say that they hate long-winded pitches as they take too much time to read them. If you value your target’s time, don’t beat around the bush and get to the point as soon as possible.
Do your homework about the journalist
It’s all too easy to annoy reporters by sending a mass email or even just pitching to the wrong person. Different journalists cover different beats, so take the time and do your research. Before you reach out to them, follow the steps below.
Find related publication
It’s important that you are sure your pitch is related to what your target typically covers. You wouldn’t want to pitch an influencer who only covers tech on a story about food. If you want to promote the opening of a new restaurant location, look for a journalist who writes about food, lifestyle, and brands.
Later, you can take advantage of your research and mention that you are familiar with their works in the first sentence of your PR pitch email, saying something like, “I read your article about xxx, and I enjoyed your approach to xxx. I have a relevant story, which I believe would be perfect for your audience.”
Understand the niche
To craft a great story and PR pitch, it is crucial for you to become an expert on the subject matter you are writing about.
Double-check the location
Perhaps, your target would love to go to Munich and visit your restaurant opening. But you seem to have missed one minor detail – the journalist you are reaching out to lives in Toronto, Canada. That’s over 4,000 miles away.
To increase your chances of success when pitching to reporters, be sure to segment them by location as well.
Research about awards, events or speeches
This info is essential if you want to make your PR pitch personalized and increase your odds of getting heard.
Keep it short
Journalists and influencers receive PR pitches all the time. If your email is too long, it’s unlikely it will be read and responded to. Try to keep the essence of your PR pitch between two or three short paragraphs. Use bullet points where appropriate. Also, consider bolding or italicizing the most important information in your email, but don’t overdo it.
Work on your subject line
Just like a subject line of any other email, the subject for a PR pitch needs to be creative enough to catch the attention of the recipient. However, avoid all capital letters, exclamation marks, emojis, and spammy words.
Tip #1: Try to create a subject line similar to headlines the journalist usually uses in writing their articles.
Tip #2: Ask yourself: “Would this subject line make me open this email?”.
Build social rapport
Just like other people, reporters are more likely to read emails from senders whose names they recognize. So, before sending your pitch, why not follow your target on social networks? Share, like, and comment on their posts. Then, once it’s time to pitch your story, you’re already way ahead of the game.
Personalize your pitch
An ideal PR pitch email should look and feel like it was written directly with a particular individual in mind. Always use the recipient’s name. It also won’t hurt you to show that you have read stories written by the journalist (mention the articles and pull quotes from within.)
Naturally, we all love to be told nice things about us. So if you found a story your target wrote really insightful, don’t be afraid to say so – they’ll love to hear it!
Offer a unique story
It’s not always easy to invent something new, but at least you can try to find a unique angle. Also, each email pitch that you make should be unique. Keep in mind that reporters see dozens of pitches every day. So it is better to avoid even using a template as a guide.
Here are a couple of don’ts to consider as you develop your PR pitch.
Don’t email multiple people in the media company
Emailing multiple people from the same media company won’t win you any favors. Often, journalists talk about the pitches they receive. And once they realize they all got the same exact one, your chances of getting covered are zero.
Don’t send the same email to all journalists
Imagine that you sent your story to Donald and Hillary simultaneously. And both of them started working on the story because they liked it. In the end, one of those will look out-of-touch if they add a story that's already been shared elsewhere.
So it is best to send your pitch email to Donald and give him a couple of days to respond. If you don’t hear back, send your email to Hillary. And don’t forget to send a short note to Donald just to let him know that you shared your story with another journalist.
Don’t pitch the product
If you don’t have news to share, make up a story that demonstrates the need for your product or service. Pitch the story, not the product.
Don’t mistype journalist name
The journalist’s name is often right there, visible for all to see – in their email address. You can also check Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Always start your email with a name. For example, “Dear Katy.”
Before you hit “Send,” make sure you spell the journalist’s name correctly! (She is NOT Kathy.)
Besides, it won’t hurt you to proofread and spell check everything you’ve written in your pitch.
Don’t attach files
The attached files are associated with malware and can be caught by spam filters. It is better to use links instead of attachments.
Don’t BCC or CC
As mentioned above, the same pitch shouldn’t apply to multiple recipients at once. I hardly imagine a journalist who would be happy to deal with a person who sends mass PR pitch emails.
Tools to use
Now, let’s take a look at the tools to help you pitch content to reporters.
HeyPress gives you access to a large database of tech journalists and influencers. The site features lots of articles from various writers on tech topics. Prices start at $15/month. The cheapest plan gives you thirty journalist emails/month.
Let’s say you want to land a publication on a big website. If you go to their contact page, you’ll probably find nothing but a contact form or a generic email like firstname.lastname@example.org. Hunter.io allows you to find more email addresses in a selected company just by typing in the website address. Prices start at $49/month, but you can also use a limited version for free.
With Netpeak Checker, it’s easy to research blogs that write about specific topics or accept the guest posts. All you need is to enter keywords and start the search. Netpeak Checker will return a list of the most relevant websites writing about that topic or having the opportunity to publish your pitch. It’s also possible to get their contact data like emails or phone numbers by selecting these parameters before scanning, collect your brand mentions across the Internet or search information for best topics by entering keywords in the SERP scraper tool, and more. Also, one is essential features for PR Specialists, or blog owners is to check backlinks after publishing your content on websites — check the number of backlinks that link to the target URL as well as dofollow or nofollow these links. Prices start at $19/month.
It is a perfect tool to learn more about your target’s personality. For example, you can find such information as a kind of language or tone they use in their articles, the ideal length of messages they prefer, and so on. CrystalKnows also gives you suggestions on how to improve your pitch in accordance with the reporter you are going to get in touch with. Prices start at $19/month.
FollowerWonk is great for finding journalists and influencers on Twitter. With this tool, it is easy to discover the best time to tweet to your targets and measure their level of influence. Prices start at $29/month.
With BuzzStream, it’s easy to research influencers that write about specific topics. All you need to do is to enter a keyword and start the search. BuzzStream will return a list of the most relevant people writing about that topic. And not only that. It is also possible to get their engagement and activity levels, understand where your targets spend their time online, filter their content by topic and by publication, and more. Prices start at $24/month.
Enter any of your PR pitch subject line examples into the corresponding field on the SubjectLine website, and the tool will help you determine whether you need to make any improvements. SubjectLine is free.
Both tools help you understand what your competitors are doing, who is sending them backlinks, which keywords are they referenced to, and more.
The most common types of PR pitch emails are cold emails, warm emails, personalized emails, and follow-ups.
Cold media pitch
A cold media pitch is sent to recipients without any previous relationship or conversation with them. Usually, cold PR pitch emails can be sent to multiple journalists at a time, but keep in mind that it is still better to master the skill of writing cold emails that aren’t actually cold and don’t send your stories to many journalists at once.
This is an email to an established contact/relationship. If you haven’t pitched to anyone yet, keep in mind that in the era of social media, cold emails can become warm emails. Just use the right tools at the right time. Follow your target journalists on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other platform where they have their stories shared socially, like them, share them, comment on them. Do your best to become a recognizable name.
To write this type of email, make sure you know the recipient’s name and other background info such as their awards, collaborations, recent articles, etc. The personalized pitch will keep things personal and increase your chances of getting heard.
You want journalists to reply after you pitched to them, right? Then don’t give up and reach out again. Experts say you should wait for four-seven days and only follow up once. If you don’t hear back from even then, you can pitch a different idea.
Here’s a PR pitch template you can reference for pitching:
Been following your articles for a while, great insights into social trends.
Your recent article about rising reports of people feeling lonely really resonated with me. I think with the declining popularity of several institutions that traditionally provided opportunities for people to meet each other such as church regularly, there haven’t been many replacements that have brought people together in the same way.
I also have a few juicy social trends to share with you. Our whizzes at OkCupid have been busy crunching some numbers, and our data paints a pretty sobering portrait of racial bias in online dating.
Some interesting questions this poses:
Think this will be a good fit for your audience? You can download an overview of the report here.
Template Credit: Art of Emails
Why do we like this template?
- The email starts with the journalist’s name;
- The author pitches to a journalist who has written about similar topics in the past;
- The PR pitch offers value (a report with numbers);
- The author doesn’t just pitch what their company does;
- It’s personalized, short, and straightforward;
You now know how to write a PR pitch, but let’s sum it up. Before you hit “Send,” make sure:
- You know the target journalist’s beat and location;
- You make the subject line of your PR pitch email enticing and non-spammy;
- You begin your message with a journalist’s name (double-check the spelling);
- You get straight to the point and briefly explain what the story is about and why you think it would fit nicely;
- You don’t send irrelevant stuff;
- You don’t email multiple people in the same media company.