PR pro, Allie McLaughlin, shares tips for pitching the media
Allison McLaughlin works as a publicist for Otter PR. McLaughlin’s clients have been featured in USA Today, The Hill, Reader’s Digest, and local TV and radio stations. Here are her tips for pitching the media.
What is a media pitch?
A pitch is an email to a media outlet summarizing a newsworthy story. An effective pitch will hook your recipient’s attention and entice them to feature your story, product, or brand in the press.
An effective media pitch is concise
The journalists you’re pitching have hundreds of similar emails in their inboxes each day. If they open your pitch, you’ll get 200 to 300 words before they’ve moved on. Make those words count.
Keep your sentences short and clear. Reread your pitch and eliminate any fluff. Bulleted lists are a great way to condense information and make it easier to digest.
Brevity is critical, but you still want to include everything the journalist needs to publish a story. Consider inserting a link to a landing page with more information, photos, and videos.
How to structure an effective media pitch
An effective media pitch is short and to-the-point. Formatting your pitch with this structure keeps it snappy and on topic:
- Intriguing headline-craft a subject line that entices the journalist to open the email
- Personal greeting-greet the journalist by name
- Credibility- establish your client’s authority on the topic
- Lead-demonstrate your pitch is newsworthy
- Call to action- tell the journalist what you want
- Value proposition- demonstrate what your client can offer the journalist
- Conclusion- recap your call to action, and thank the journalist
An effective pitch has a captivating headline
Without an intriguing subject line, your pitch is unlikely to be opened. You only have a few words to hook journalists and make them want to know more. Keep the subject line catchy and to-the-point. Think of the headlines that suck you into reading magazine articles or blogs and craft your subject line with that same appeal.
McLaughlin likes to make her subject line more enticing by opening with an offer. “Tickets to an event, product samples, interviews, and guest posts, are all bonuses that might get a journalist interested enough to open the email,” she says.
McLaughlin advises against including names in the subject line. “Unless the client you’re pitching is extremely well known, save their name for the pitch. If a journalist sees a person’s name they don’t know, they aren’t likely to open the email.”
An effective media pitch opens with a personal greeting
Blasting your pitch to hundreds of media outlets is rarely effective. “It’s imperative to make sure your pitch is relevant to the journalist you’re pitching and within their realm of coverage,” McLaughlin remarks. Become familiar with the outlet you want to pitch and find the specific journalist in that outlet who would be most interested in your story.
An effective pitch establishes credibility
An effective pitch establishes credibility for your client. “You always want to pitch your client as the expert,” says McLaughlin. “Why is your client the best person to talk about this topic? Does your client work in a relevant field? Has your client written a book covering the subject?”
An effective media pitch contains a newsworthy lead
Your lead is the story or idea that hooks your contact. The journalists and reporters you’re pitching want stories that are newsworthy. Information about a product or brand isn’t enough for a successful pitch. If your pitch is going to appeal to a journalist, it must be tied to a story that is timely and impactful.
To ensure the relevancy of your pitch, try crafting the lead by hooking it to either:
- A news peg—a trending story or topic such as an election, an approaching hurricane, or a popular new movie
- A time peg—an upcoming time or date such as Arbor Day, the anniversary of the lunar landing, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month
An effective media pitch contains a clear call to action
A call to action is a clear statement crafted to invoke an action from the journalist. Do you want your client to be interviewed on a podcast? Do you want your client’s book or product to be reviewed? Does your client want to contribute a guest post to the journalist’s blog? Be specific about the media coverage you want.
An effective media pitch contains a value proposition
The value proposition is the heart of your pitch. It’s two or three sentences demonstrating why this story is unique and how it can benefit the journalist. Make sure the journalist knows what your client can offer. Interviews, quotes, and expert advice are all valuable contributions journalists need to publish their stories every day.
An effective pitch closes with a call to action
Don’t forget to conclude your pitch by recapping your call to action. Your goal is to keep communication flowing. A statement such as, “Please let me know if I can set up an interview with my client to discuss this topic or any other story ideas you have in mind,” opens the door for a response. Finally, wrap up your pitch by politely thanking the journalist and leaving your contact information.
Now that you’re familiar with structuring a pitch, check out tips for crafting a catchy subject lines to make sure your pitch is read.