Pitch Perfect: Media Pitching Basics and Best Practices
March 15, 2023
Published by Maria Marchewka
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If you’ve ever watched the hit show Shark Tank on ABC, you know an entrepreneur’s success relies heavily on their pitch to the Sharks.
Confusing or pithy pitches typically lead to the person walking out empty-handed.
Successful pitches, on the other hand, focus on the details and clearly address the problem and how their product/service provides a solution, bettering the entrepreneur's chances of leaving the Tank with a deal.
This same premise applies to media pitching. Your pitch is what sets your brand apart from the sea of pitches journalists receive on a daily basis.
In this blog post, we cover:
What's a media pitch?
What to include in a media pitch
Mistakes to avoid when writing a pitch
What’s a media pitch?
A media pitch is a short and informative message that’s written to pique the media’s interest in a news story. If the story’s compelling and sent to the right contact, the chances of it getting picked up increase.
Media pitches are usually sent via email, but can also be done over the phone or through direct messages on social media.
No matter the medium, the end goal’s simple – to earn media coverage.
Though simple in nature, crafting media pitches that stand out to journalists takes skill.
That’s because every media pitch you send should be different and catered specifically to the recipient.
Customization and creativity are two forces that can help your pitch stand out in a journalist’s inbox.
Media Pitching 101
Pre Pitch Before you do the work of crafting your pitch, you’ll want to run through this checklist to ensure you’re dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.”
Is this story worth pitching? Is this information something the publication’s audience would truly care about or find valuable? You should be able to quickly and confidently answer Yes. If you can, it’s a sign you’re ready to pitch.
Are you contacting the right person? Always double and sometimes triple-check to make sure the journalist still works at the publication and covers the same beat. Journalists tend to move from publication to publication and switch their areas of focus. You can never be too careful in making sure you’re reaching out to the right contact.
Did you customize the pitch? Avoid mass emails at all costs. Go the extra mile and tailor your pitch to the publication and journalist. Highlight their past work, and share why their target audience will care about your story. Personalizing takes time, but it’s worth the investment to build relationships with key media contacts.
Pitch perfect If your news checked the boxes on that checklist, it’s time to perfect your pitch.
Here’s what you need to know.
A media pitch should be 200 words or less.
Save the fluff for your decorative pillows and focus on the most important information.
Crafting concise yet powerful media pitches takes practice. But, these fundamentals will set you on the right path:
Start with why/what
Give the journalists reasons to care
End with an open line of communication
Here’s a format you can use to plug and play your information.
Now, it’s worth noting you should treat this as a fire starter kit of sorts. Think of the wording we used as kindling wood to spark your creativity and customization.
Hi _____, I think your readers will be interested in (share your product/service) as I know they’re fans of (highlight a similar topic/product the journalist covered before).
WHY/WHAT (Your product/service) does/provides benefit 1, benefit 2, and benefit 3. REASONS TO CARE
If you’re interested, I can (send a free sample, set up an interview, share data, etc.).
NEXT STEPS You have my email, but if a call/text is easier for you, my phone number is (123)4567890. OPEN LINE OF COMMUNICATION
I look forward to hearing from you,
3 media pitching mistakes to avoid
As is with most things in there there are things you should do and things you should avoid.
Your media pitch is no different.
We highlighted three common media pitching mistakes you’ll want to avoid moving forward.
Let’s take a look…
Scroll-inducing subject lines Your email’s subject line is the hook that’ll reel in the journalist’s attention. Without one, you’ll cast a line but get zero bites.
Think about the subject lines that make you click.
What caught your eye? Can you apply that approach to your subject lines?
When writing the subject line for your pitch, consider the following:
Keep it short and sweet. Your subject line should stay within 60-80 characters and 8-10 words max. Let the journalist know exactly what they’ll get when they click.
Put on your Captain Obvious hat before writing. Your subject line should share the exact reason for your email. Do you have a pitch, exclusive, story/segment idea? Whatever it is, include it in the subject line.
Free information. Oftentimes the best part of grocery shopping is the free samples. Channel this energy into your subject line. Are you planning to share free data, graphs, or multimedia? Let them know.
The timing isn’t right A common excuse for a breakup is “the timing wasn’t right.” The same applies to your pitch.
Before you hit Send, think about a journalist’s day.
Their day starts with a flood of emails in their inbox. Then they’ll likely be in and out of editorial meetings throughout the day and they spend their “downtime” writing.
Their days are full.
That’s why it’s important to test your send times.
Try a mid-morning email when they’ve likely cleaned up their inbox mess from the morning or an email around lunchtime before their afternoon deadlines hit.
TIP: Never send a pitch on the weekends or late Friday afternoon. They’re humans, too.
It’s not you, it’s me Your pitch is obviously about you. But, you don’t want the journalist to feel that way.
Turn the spotlight off your brand and onto how you can help them.
What value does your story provide their audience? Can you clearly connect some of their past articles to your pitch to create relevancy?
Keep your focus on the journalist and their audience to craft a pitch that’ll lead to an earned media opportunity.
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