A pitch email is an email that is sent to a journalist in an attempt to get them to cover a specific story that they might have a particular interest in. Read our guide below on how to write a PR pitch email.
Table of contents:
- What is a PR pitch email?
- When should you use a PR Pitch Email?
- The advantages of using a PR Pitch Email
- How to structure a great PR Pitch Email
- How to follow up a PR Pitch Email.
- PR Pitch Email Checklist
What is a PR pitch email?
A pitch email is an email that is sent to a journalist in an attempt to get them to cover a specific story that they might have a particular interest in. They can either be sent to a wide range of journalists or as an exclusive to a journalist who may have a particular interest in your pitch. It is important to clarify when sending a pitch email whether it is an exclusive and to be happy with the coverage that this will bring you.
There are two types of pitch:
You might send an exclusive pitch email when you have a story that would fit particularly well with a certain publication or website. An agreed exclusive will guarantee you coverage and if you think a certain journalist will love your story, it’s a mutually beneficial pitch.
On the other hand, if you aren’t sure about targeting one specific audience, you might pitch to a few different journalists or organisations. You would do this if you wanted to pitch someone out for a radio or TV interview on a particular story. This broadens the potential of your coverage but may leave you without a defined audience.
The key elements of a pitch email are:
- Knowing your target audience
Knowing your target audience can help you to decide who to pitch to and whether you want it to be an exclusive pitch.
- Matching your pitch to the best audience and be satisfied with this choice
Choose who you are pitching to and be happy with the result that this will give you. An exclusive pitch will guarantee you a specific audience but this will rule out other coverage. Ensure that you are happy with this choice before agreeing to an exclusive.
- Writing a snappy subject line
A pitch is only as good as its opening line and standing out in a sea of emails is the key to getting picked up. Read our piece here on how to perfect the first line of your press release.
- Tuning into the journalist you are pitching to
You have the best chance of getting a story picked up if your pitch is tuned into the journalist you are pitching to. Do some background research and personalise your pitch to help it stand out. Look out for related stories the journalist has covered before and topics that they have a particular interest in and feed these into your pitch.
- Get to the point with concise but detailed information
A pitch email should have all of the detail to convince a journalist to cover your piece without being a short essay. Introduce your topic, outline what you’re looking to get from them and what they can expect to get from covering this story. Add some detail about why it would be a great opportunity for their company and conclude by thanking them and offering to further discuss the pitch if they are interested.
- Know when to follow up and when to accept a rejection
If you don’t hear from a journalist you have pitched to but think they would be interested in your story, it’s worth following up with them to ensure that they received your pitch. If you get a rejection, see it as a lifeline to learn why and to improve upon it. When faced with rejection, you can either choose to kill your story or make it better.
When should you use a pitch email?
A pitch email should be used when you have a story on a particular topic or event that you think would fit well in a certain publication or if you want it to have exclusive coverage by a particular journalist or media type. If you have an existing relationship with this journalist, it is good practice to outline why you think your story would be a good fit for them and what benefits they will get from covering it.
If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with them, it could be a good way to form one. It is important to warm up your email with an introduction and discuss the mutual benefits that this pitch will provide if they cover it. Pitching to journalists can guarantee coverage that you are happy with. When your pitch is accepted, ensure that you are okay with ruling out other coverage in favour of coverage from this journalist.
The Advantages of using a PR pitch email
There are many advantages of opting to use a PR pitch email rather than sending out a story to a big list of journalists.
- It can provide a sense of exclusivity, acting as a great incentive for a journalist to cover your pitch.
- Make it personal – Adding a personal touch to a pitch email by doing some research on the journalist you are sending it to can improve your chances of getting your story covered.
- It can be short and sweet – A pitch email doesn’t have to be long winded and full of detail. All you need is a personal touch and a few main points that outline the main points of your pitch.
- If successful, it guarantees coverage – If your pitch is the right fit for a journalist and they are happy to work with it, you will be guaranteed coverage and an audience.
- If unsuccessful, it tells you that your pitch needs work. Learning to accept when a pitch needs work can be crucial to your success. If it gets rejected and a journalist provides you with feedback, learn to either kill your darling or improve upon it before trying again. If a journalist offers you a lifeline, rethink your strategy and make it a learning opportunity.
How to structure a great PR pitch email
A great pitch email is as much about the subject line and structure as it is about the contents. If your email doesn’t have a catchy headline that stands out in a sea of emails, it won’t be opened regardless of how apt or interesting the story is. Similarly, if your pitch is long with lots of detail and little white space, this will make it less likely for a journalist to pick it up as they will have to wade through a block of text to find the key points.
Have a snappy subject line – If you want your pitch to stand out in a journalist’s inbox, the subject has to stand out and catch their attention from the get-go.
Keep it short and concise – Try to fit your information into a short email including bullet points that are easy to read and form a narrative. This way the journalist who you are pitching to will get the idea of your story in the first few minutes instead of reading through a long-winded version of your pitch.
Make it personal – Do your research on the journalist you are pitching to and include a few sentences on why you think your pitch would be a great fit for them.
Tune into the journalists’ needs – The key here is to tune into the kind of news the journalist you are pitching to covers and how they cover it to better understand what they want from a story pitch. Read their stories or listen to a programme they’ve featured on and adjust your pitch to make it personalised to them.
How to follow up on a pitch email
Following up can be a crucial part of sending PR pitch emails. Sometimes pitches get lost in a sea of emails and your chosen journalist(s) may not have spotted your pitch or its potential. Sending a personalised and polite follow-up email can bring your pitch back to the top of their inbox and possibly inspire them to take another look.
Most cold emails will go unnoticed so the key here is to add a personal touch to your follow up email. Offer to answer any questions that they may have and provide your contact details. A follow-up email doesn’t need to be long-winded and full of detail. A simple and polite check in to follow up and answer any questions is the way to go.
PR pitch email checklist
Here is a checklist of how to write a PR pitch email and get noticed:
- Write a snappy subject line that will stand out in a sea of emails.
- Keep it short and sweet, stick to the main points and offer to answer any questions.
- Add a personal touch by doing your research on the journalist you are pitching to and explain why they would be a great fit for your story.
- Send a short and sweet follow up email offering to take a call and answer any questions they may have.
Looking to send your own Pitch Emails? More than just a Press Release Distribution tool. MediaHQ helps you find journalists, build media lists, distribute press releases and analyse results.
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More about Ciara Byrne
Ciara is a Research Executive at MediaHQ. Ciara has a degree in Media and English from DCU and has been working with MediaHQ since graduating in 2019.