5 tips for writing the perfect pitch email

22.01.16 Typing on laptop

Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day. Many of them go unread or are banished to the spam box.

MediaHQ.com teaches you how to grab their attention with a savvy email pitch and get your story heard.

Pitch to the right people at the right time

First of all, you need to think about the journalists you wish to target. Know about their publication and understand who their audience is.

If you pitch to the wrong reporter, you are wasting both your time and their time, and a misguided pitch could be blasted publicly on social media.

MediaHQ.com will teach you about how to build a great media list at our upcoming Pitch Perfect event on January 26.

You also need to pitch at the right time. Reporters are under constant time constraints as they work to meet deadlines, a growing pressure as newsrooms continue to shrink.

Give them enough time to digest your email and respond, and reach out to your targets well in advance of when you wish to get your story placed.

Make it personal

One of the most successful strategies for an emailed pitch is to make it personalise.

Yes, it is painstaking having to start loads of one-on-one conversations, but if you appeal to the right people (as we said above), your email is less likely to go unread than if you simply fire out a blast of copied and pasted messages.

It is good to cite relevant stories that the journalist has recently published, but don’t go overboard on flattery: a cynical journalist will see it as shallow.

Grab their attention

Avoid getting marked as spam: Draw the journalist in with a compelling subject line. This is probably the most difficult task.

Journalists receive story ideas all day, every day, so think about what makes your story stand out from all the others. Lead with your hook in the subject line and entice them to open your message.

Keep it short

While it is good to give a journalist plenty of information, you don’t need to tell them every single detail. Just the relevant stuff.

Get to the point straight away. Think about what makes your story newsworthy. Give the journalist the most relevant information at the beginning and go from there.  Explain how it will benefit their publication. Focus on what will make your story idea interesting to their audience.

If you are offering them exclusivity, make that clear.

The body of your email should be no longer than 200 words.

Make sure you spell check. Journalists find misspellings grating, another error that could be mocked on social media.

Don’t waffle

Be clear and concise. What you might consider market-speak could be perceived as jargon. Don’t exaggerate and make claims that aren’t true: Journalists are trained to be sceptical, and will see through it straight away.

If you are pitching a complex topic, then use bullet points.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all email that will appeal to every journalist.

You should always think about how you can improve your pitching over time. Monitor what does and doesn’t work, and see what areas you need to improve.

If you want to learn more about pitching story ideas, come along to our Pitch Perfect course on January 26. MediaHQ.com’s managing director Jack Murray, an expert in pitching ideas, will teach you how to connect with journalists, build media lists and get your story heard.

Conor – @conormcmahon