As the media evolves, so does the pitching process.
Shrinking newsrooms at traditional media outlets mean reporters are now busier than ever. That’s why it is important for savvy PR pros to smarten up their pitching techniques if they want to sell their stories to influential journalists.
Here are five bad habits to kick if you want to become pitch perfect:
1. Making your story too complicated
Journalists are likely under pressure for time, so you’ll have to really grab their attention. The most effective way to do that is to keep your pitch clean, simple and powerful.
Make your message snappy and include only what is necessary.
If you are pitching a complex topic through email, break the story down to its simplest form and use bullet points.
Avoid jargon because it is awkward and a journalist will dismiss it as marketing-speak.
2. Not researching a reporter
If you are pitching an exclusive to an individual reporter, make sure you know about their past articles and specialist areas. There is no point pitching an education story to a health correspondent (unless it is somehow relevant, of course).
Also, check that they haven’t already covered stories on your competitors and look into the media outlet they contribute to.
This will help smarten up your pitch and make it easier to establish a rapport with the journalist if you already have some context about their career.
3. Not personalising a pitch
Rather than putting someone at the butt end of a mass email, personalise your pitch with references to past articles and connect with them through social media.
It’s possible to personalise media releases on MediaHQ’s system. You can learn more about that here.
4. Weak subject lines
If you are emailing a pitch, a snappy subject line is crucial.
Keep it short and write in vivid, simple language. Write it in the active verb form, and use the present or future tense.
Remember, the subject line is supposed to attract the reader and capture the essence of your story in a single sentence.
5. Being a nuisance caller
If a journalist doesn’t respond to your email or your Tweet, they certainly won’t respond to your call.
And if they have ignored your story idea, don’t hunt down their co-workers as well.
If you want to learn more about pitching story ideas, come along to our Pitch Perfect training course on March 8. MediaHQ.com’s managing director Jack Murray, an expert on pitching ideas, will teach you how to connect with journalists, build media lists and get your story heard.
MediaHQ.com is Ireland’s largest and most dynamic media intelligence company, with contacts to more than 7,000 journalists on our database. Since we started in 2009, we have helped Ireland’s best known brands connect over 100,000 stories with the media.
Conor – @conormcmahon