5 ways to write pitches journalists will be thankful for
No doubt about it. Fall is here and Thanksgiving is next week! For many, this holiday is all about family, friends, food, and football—and of course, remembering what we’re thankful for.
In the spirit of giving thanks, what can we as PR pros do to make journalists lives easier when it comes to sending pitches—and make them more thankful for us? Here are five ideas:
1. Write more carefully—and proof your work
In your rush to get the news out, you may have quickly put together a pitch and sent it out. But, you failed to thoughtfully proof your work—and, in your rush, you left errors. This can get your pitch sent to the trash bin without even being considered.
Moral of the story: check your work. And then, re-check it. After all, remember that many reporters majored in journalism—they write for a living. So, it needs to be as close to perfect as possible. And remember, spell check won’t catch everything. Best to have an editor (or colleague) proof your pitch. What’s that—you have no one to proof your writing? Then try an app like Hemingwayapp or Grammarly to review it.
2. Create better subject lines
It’s true—subject lines matter. Say you’ve spent a good chunk of time carefully crafting your pitch. You’ve read and re-read it. You’ve even gotten a colleague to review it—thumbs up!
Then, you get ready to send it, quickly filling in the subject line. Oops—this is the first thing the reporter will see. Don’t neglect this. Make sure it’s as compelling as the pitch itself. Otherwise, he or she may not read on.
3. Make sure it’s a fit
Sometimes, in our state of “hurry up and get it out,” we send our pitch to the wrong reporter. Yes, it’s true that reporters change beats or, in some cases, leave the publication entirely. But, it’s up to us to do our research as prudently as possible to ensure we’re making our best effort to get the pitch to the right journalist.
That means if you’re pitching a company based in Cleveland, you don’t want to send your news to a reporter in Detroit. Or, if you have a story on the aerospace industry, don’t send it to the reporter who covers healthcare. Do your research to ensure the best possible fit.
4. Better personalization
All the time and care you spent writing the pitch, crafting the perfect subject line and choosing the right reporters to send it to will be for naught—if you don’t take the time to personalize the pitch.
We can all get in a hurry and hit “send” before checking to make sure we’ve correctly addressed an email by using a personalized greeting. This is a step you shouldn’t miss. Reporter John Smith may immediately delete your email if you accidentally type his name as “Joe.”
Don’t believe this happens? Take a look on any given day at @SmugJourno for examples of just how often this occurs. Or, another no-no you’ll see there is sending a pitch that has no personalization whatsoever, by addressing it, for example, to “Dear Media.” Just don’t do it.
5. Better timing
Let’s say you’ve done all the above—you’ve carefully written and proofed your pitch, crafted an attention-grabbing subject line, made sure you’re sending it to the right reporter and personalized it for him or her. But, have you considered the day and time you’re sending your pitch? This can make a difference.
Reporters work on deadlines. If you know a reporter’s deadline is noon on Thursdays—and you choose to send your pitch at 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning—you may not get a response. This is where planning comes in. And yes, research.
Another timing issue: If you see a reporter has just covered a story, they may not be writing about that topic again for a while. Or, say there’s a breaking news story you know a reporter will be covering. If you expect him or her to see your email, you may want to hold it for a less busy time.
Try these tips to ensure your pitches are ones that make journalists thankful for you. And, have a happy Thanksgiving!
Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. She works with clients ranging from small businesses to enterprises such as Adobe and HP, assisting them in crafting and carrying out a PR strategy to help them get the word out, get noticed and increase visibility, prospects and sales.
Photo: Thank you via Shutterstock