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The Art of the Pitch

The Art of the Pitch
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Whether it’s fair or unfair, public relations professionals are ultimately judged by one thing: the quality and quantity of media placements they secure for their clients. At the foundation of every good PR professional is an individual who is able to craft a media pitch that effectively persuades a journalist to write a story about the company, event or initiative they are promoting.

Whether a seasoned PR practitioner or someone early in their career, it’s important to evaluate the current media landscape. Cision’s 2021 Global State of the Media Report offered several key insights earlier this year to the new realities facing newsrooms.

By the numbers:

  • Nearly 60 percent of journalists admitted to making data-driven decisions about the content they write and the stories they publish based on driving clicks, their readers’ time on their articles, and social media engagement with their stories.
  • Almost half of journalists cover five or more beats and nearly the same amount file seven or more stories per week.
  • 53 percent of journalists receive more than 50 pitches a week, and 28 percent receive more than 100 per week (Cision’s 2021 State of the Media Report).

Newsrooms and journalists are stretched thin, but are still expected to produce the same level of content as several years ago — despite having smaller newsrooms. A reporter’s day will likely include:

  • Tight deadlines and multiple stories due to their editor later that day
  • Needing to research multiple stories, coordinating and conducting interviews for each
  • Fact checking information provided
  • Determining how to drive clicks and increase engagement for their story
  • Promoting the story on their social media accounts and coordinating with their media outlets’ social media team
  • Sifting through hundreds of pitches per week

As a PR practitioner, how do you grab the attention of a reporter who is constantly overwhelmed with other duties and writing assignments and never has enough time? This is where the art of the pitch becomes so critical and essential to our jobs. Every PR pro has their own way of pitching.

Check out these helpful tips before hitting send on your next pitch:

  1. Ensure you are pitching the right person
    You could be the greatest pitch writer in the world. However, if you’re directing your pitches to the wrong reporter – wrong beat, role or publication, there’s no point in even sending the pitch. The local sports reporter has no interest in covering the food story you’re pitching them. Make sure the people who receive your pitch are the people who are writing about the topic you’re trying to promote.

  2. Create an eye-popping subject line
    To get a reporter interested in covering your story, you must first get them to open the email. Concise, eye-catching and intriguing subject lines can mimic a good headline. Avoid words like “free” that could go straight to a reporter’s spam folder.

  3. Include the important and interesting news upfront
    How often have you read the first couple sentences of an email only to decide that it’s not worth your time to continue? We all have short attention spans and reporters are no different. Similar to the development of a press release, make sure you have all the important, eye-catching information (who, what, when, where, why and how) that may interest a reporter at the beginning of your pitch.

  4. Make your pitch unique to the reporter you’re pitching
    Tailor your pitch to the reporter. Do some research ahead of time to figure out what the reporter has written about recently or has posted on social media. If it aligns with what you’re pitching, this could perhaps be something to reference in your pitch. Reporters will appreciate the extra effort.

  5. Explain the value of your topic
    As previously mentioned, reporters are looking for stories that will generate clicks and increase engagement. Demonstrate within your pitch how this story could do just that.

  6. Keep it short and sweet
    Again, how many times have you received a lengthy email that you take a quick look at and realize that this is something that “you can get to later” but ultimately delete or simply forget? Reporters are BUSY. They don’t have time to read through lengthy emails. Get to your point….quickly.

  7. Show that you can be of help
    Perhaps the topic included in your pitch is on the right path, but the story angle isn’t resonating with the reporter’s current needs. Make it clear that you’re willing to work with the reporter to identify other story ideas or angles, if needed. Include language within your pitch that reassures the reporter that you’re willing to be of help and are flexible if they like the topic but need to adjust the angle.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed or not sure where to begin? Planit has a dedicated PR & Social Media Team ready to help!