Public Relations

From Subject Line to Story: 5 PR Pitch Strategies That Work!

Public relations professionals know that pitching to the media is a crucial step in getting their client or organization’s message out to the public. But in today’s crowded media landscape, it can be challenging to grab the attention of busy journalists. In fact, a media colleague I know has an entire series on her social media essentially showing what her inbox looks like and it’s a scary place. Off the wall, completely unrelated pitches aside, she gets flooded with information daily and it’s her job to parse through the dirt and find the diamonds her audiences actually care about. 

Our team of PR experts have earned their reputation as the best because we follow these best practices for media pitching, which we consider vital to success in 2023.

Get to Know Your Target

Research is the foundation of all strategic communications. Before you reach out to the media, it’s essential to do some homework on the outlet and reporter you’re targeting. Analyze past articles and recent coverage to understand the topics they typically cover and the angles they tend to take. This will help tailor your story pitch.

The goal is to offer news value, beyond just promoting your organization or client. Consider how your story idea might offer a unique perspective or insight on a broader trend or issue, or how it might provide a practical solution to a problem that is of interest to the journalist’s audience. Show that you’ve done your research by referencing a topic they’ve covered in the past related to your pitch. Be a storyteller, but don’t waste their time.

Keep It Concise

Media professionals are busy people, so it’s crucial to hook the reader and make your point in just a few sentences. Be clear and direct in your writing, using simple language, conveying only the key elements of your story and why it is newsworthy. Adopt the journalistic writing technique of the inverted pyramid, placing the most important information at the beginning of the email, to ensure the first couple of sentences capture the reader’s attention.

Your first opportunity to make an impression is through the email subject line. Increase the odds that your email will be opened by including personalization, a timely angle or a unique perspective. But keep it short. Ideally, your subject line should be 6-8 words. 

Sell Your Story, But Don’t Overdo It

You can use action-oriented language in your subject line to create a sense of urgency and excitement. For example, “Breaking News: New Study Finds…,” “Exclusive Interview Opportunity:…,” or “Timely Addition:…” Just make sure your subject line is not sensationalized and accurately reflects the content within the email. Avoid buzzwords and jargon, as they can make your pitch seem too salesy or impersonal.

If you don’t hear back from a reporter after your initial outreach, don’t be afraid to follow up with a polite reminder email a few days later. But keep it even shorter and to the point than your original pitch, and ensure your tone does not come off as pushy or aggressive. Some media professionals prefer to communicate initially over social media, so if you’re convinced the pitch is good, explore all avenues available before moving on.

Package the Pitch with Media

Adding high-quality images or videos that highlight your story’s key points can be a powerful way to engage a journalist’s interest. With fewer news people on staff, your multimedia pitch might be just what they need to make a deadline. You should also provide pertinent contact information for any experts or spokespeople who can provide additional information or interviews. Be available and responsive to any follow-up questions or requests. Consider how to offer exclusive content or early access to the story to help sweeten the deal in high value scenarios.

Consider an Op-Ed

In the same way packaging multimedia can be a great benefit for the media person, creating pre-written long form content can also be useful. For print or online media, consider offering a guest commentary on a topic that will be an upcoming focus of the publication. This is a great way to showcase your expertise from your own perspective with your own messaging. But be sure to maintain that thought leadership tone and subject, rather than a sales mentality. There’s no room for advertorial content here and it’s a sure fire way to burn a relational bridge with media.While working with media can be daunting, the right team with the right approach can set your brand apart. Lazy pitches are a thing of the past. We utilize these techniques to ensure our pitches stand out and get the attention of not only the media, but ultimately your target audience.

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    Jennifer Joyner