Got a story idea you’d love the media to cover?
Stuck on what to do next?
In most cases, a pitch email will do the trick (there are some instances when press releases work a treat – check ‘em out here).
But when I say pitch “email” there’s more to it than a couple of lines about how great your idea is.
The problem is, the media get bombarded with pitches every single day — so it can be difficult to get their attention.
The good news is, there are 5 secrets to getting your pitch email further than a reporter’s inbox.
Secret #1: A show-stopping subject line
When your pitch email lands in a reporter’s inbox, you want them to do one thing — open it.
But here’s the deal: getting a reporter to open and actually read your pitch is a door you need to unlock — and your subject line is the key.
Like any headline, writing an attention-grabbing subject line can often take longer than the pitch itself! So here’s a little insider secret for you:
Work with the media outlet’s own headlines to create a subject line in a style that piques their interest.
For example, a bridal magazine’s headline, “Insider secrets to savvy spending” could be switched to:
- Insider secrets to the perfect honeymoon
- Insider secrets to stunning wedding photos
- Insider secrets to a show-stopping first dance
- Insider secrets to flawless wedding makeup
Secret # 2: A personal opener
You want to tailor your pitch so the reporter receiving it feels like it was written just for them (no mass emailing to big media lists here!).
This goes beyond copying and pasting their name into your email.
Show them you know their audience and their work. Subtle flattery, such as “I enjoyed your recent piece on XYZ, and thought this story might be of interest to you…” can go a long way.
Secret #3: An off-the-charts “care factor”
Your pitch needs to answer one question for the reporter: “Why should I care?”
The best way to do this is to serve up a story angle that entertains, inspires or educates their audience (pack in all three if you can manage it!).
It’s about making the reporter’s job easier by doing some of the legwork for them and crafting a pitch that is super relevant to their audience.
What problems does their audience have that you can solve? What questions do they have that you can answer?
Can you provide the reporter with information they can’t readily access themselves, such as industry stats and trends, client case studies, and expert tips and advice?
Make them care about you and your story idea, and you’re onto a winner.
Secret #4: A procrastination killer
Procrastination is a press pitch’s worst enemy — if a reporter files it away in their “future ideas” folder, there’s a good chance it’ll never see the light of day again.
One way to kill reporter procrastination is to make your pitch timely so they’re compelled to act NOW.
Look at tying your story angle to a season, month, event, holiday – anything with a time limit that requires swift action.
Or, take advantage of the “slipstream” created when one of your competitors gets press, by offering the reporter a new and interesting angle on the story. (Derek Halpern of Social Triggers calls this the “Drafting technique”)
Secret #5: A thrifty writing style
There’s one thing all reporters are short of — time. So don’t waste it.
Your pitch needs to be concise and get straight to the point. Edit your email and remove any unnecessary words or flowery language so only the most powerful and informative sentences make the final cut.
Remember, your pitch email is all about selling the idea — if the reporter bites, then you can supply them with additional information.
Emma Lawrence is a web-savvy PR pro and award-winning journalist who teaches trailblazing small business owners how to talk their walk, tell captivating stories, and attract the attention they deserve.
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