Five Often Overlooked Media Pitching Tips

June 25, 2013 // By: // 1 Comment

Traditional Media     



Do your homework before pitching me. Don’t send me a blast, cookie-cutter e-mail, because I’ll ignore it. Try grabbing me with a catchy subject line. Avoid hyperbole and superlatives — even if your product or service truly is unique, innovative or cutting-edge. And above all, never ask me if I got your pitch or press release.

These are five pointers among hundreds I’ve heard from journalists on how PR pros can sharpen our media pitching skills. Below are five lesser-known tips that may also be worth adding to your media pitching toolbox:

 

  • Put your pitch on a word count “diet”: Experienced publicists know that pitches should be concise, since journalists receive hundreds of pitches each day. But exactly how concise? Try this exercise: Draft your pitch in Microsoft Word and use the word count feature to limit your pitch to 150 words.* Use hyperlinks as necessary to shave words while still communicating relevant points. By following this word count diet, you’ll soon notice that your pitches are tighter and leaner. Better yet, reporters will notice too. * Embed the pitch into the body of your e-mail — rather than attaching it as a document —because many reporters won’t open attachments.
  • Don’t forget the AP Daybook: Every PR pro is familiar with the Associated Press, but it’s worth noting that every AP bureau in the U.S. has a Daybook that journalists can access to see what events are going on around town. How do PR pros know if their event made it into the Daybook? If your event is in New York or Los Angeles and you have a Factiva account, you’re in luck!
  • Omit a relevant (but not critical) piece of information from your pitch: As mentioned above, most journalists hate to be asked “did you get my pitch or press release?” So you’ll need to find another approach to follow up. Let’s say you’re trying to book a spokesperson on a daytime talk show. Use your initial pitch to gage the producer’s interest. If you don’t hear back from the producer, send him/her a follow up e-mail with your spokesperson’s availability.
  • Offer media a list of evergreen story angles: Most PR pros subscribe to the adage that it’s helpful to peg a pitch to a season, a holiday or a specific event of some kind. That’s generally good advice. But during slow news periods, media often find themselves scraping the bottom of the barrel and are willing to provide ink and airtime on such evergreen topics as five essential home organizing tips, the wonderfully wacky history of marshmallows, etc. So be sure to periodically send a client list and evergreen story angles to your media contacts so they can access this info whenever they’re in a pinch.
  • Tap into the power of Twitter to enrich your media lists: Cision and similar types of media databases offer a strong foundation to build comprehensive media lists. The recently upgraded Twitter lists is an excellent resource to fill in the gaps. And Muck Rack, a free platform that allows users to see what journalists are tweeting, also offers a moderately-priced pro option that features enhanced search functionality and the ability to create media lists and alerts.


About the Author

Jason Winocour

An agency partner at Hunter Public Relations, Jason taps into his 20 years of PR experience in the government, not-for-profit and for-profit sectors in overseeing Hunter PR’s media department.
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