Reel in the big one: Three tips for pitching media

Media alerts and news releases are the heart of PR. To a reporter, all those pitches or media alerts are just hooks on a line, so how do you get a reporter to bite yours?

Perhaps we can help ensure you get the media catch of the day with these tips:

1. Hook ‘em with the subject line

When writing a media release or pitch, ask yourself, “Why should they care?” It’s your job to share with the media what you think they need to know. If you don’t have a good reason to pitch a story, then don’t pitch it. On the flip side of the coin, if you have a good story to tell, hook the reader with the subject line. It’s likely the first thing journalists will notice, making it one of—if not the most important part—of the entire email.

Your subject line should be clear and brief. Incorporate your topic. And don’t be afraid to get creative.

2. Bait ‘em by saying more with less

Time’s a-ticking. Journalists work in a fast-paced industry. They receive countless pitches a day, sometimes spending less than a minute reading each media alert or news release they receive. The more copy you give, the less likely they’ll read all of it.

So where do you start? Every news release or media alert should answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where and why. From that, you can build a story.

Additionally, monitor your word count. Average Reading Time (ART) is a great formula to help keep you succinct. Plus, it’s simple: Word count divided by 200 = ART in minutes. For example, the word count of your release or media alert is 400. 400 divided by 200 is two, so your release or media alert will take two minutes to read—may be a tad too long.

Before sending your media materials, thoroughly proof for errors, and I don’t mean just running Spellcheck. A PR Newswire study found that 25 percent of errors in news releases were dates and days not matching. Yikes!

3. Cast your line to the right folks

There is an adage, “Fish where the fish are.”

Just like casting a wide net won’t help you get the fish you want, simply contacting the media does not guarantee coverage. Blanket pitches won’t get you very far. Remember, journalists receive a myriad of pitches a day. Why add another email to their inbox when they aren’t the appropriate contact in the first place?

Be smart. Be strategic. Do your research. Zero in on the publications and journalists who are relevant to the topic at hand. Additionally, there are a variety of ways to develop your contact list. Many media outlets provide reporter contact info, beats, bios and more right on their websites.

As for tools that come with a price tag, there are several software companies that offer comprehensive influencer and media databases that allow you to search by categories like outlet, region, media type and so forth. These are great avenues to explore to help you hone your target media list.

Now, it’s time to start developing your news release or media alert! If you capture the journalist’s attention, get to the point quickly and target your pitches, you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.

By |2019-01-21T13:15:32+00:00December 17th, 2018|media relations|Comments Off on Reel in the big one: Three tips for pitching media

About the Author:

Sarah Cook
Water makes up about 70 percent of the earth’s surface but, quite possibly, 100 percent of Sarah’s soul. Though she’s a landlocked Cincinnati native, she loves to go surfing on vacation, and Beach Boys music is her personal soundtrack. Water figures into her career, too. As a longtime public relations specialist for Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, Sarah served on the steering committee for the beloved Rubber Duck Regatta. She believes in getting results: The Duck has raised more than $1 million annually since 2014, and the food bank won more than 12,000 earned media mentions during her tenure. It’s no surprise Sarah’s so skilled at media relations – she spent almost eight years as a TV journalist, too.