The News Pitch

Crafting a Media Pitch that Won’t Strike Out

As a member of the media I received an average of 10 pitches a day. Pitches about store openings, lawsuits, candidate announcements, fundraisers, cat fashion shows, medical breakthroughs, back-to-school tips, boat shows, beauty pageants and more spilled into my inbox and voice mail hour after hour and day after day. The majority were met with a click of the delete key. However, some were able to get my attention – and they all had following things in common.

A Good Headline
All media pitches should be emailed. Do not let your story be lost in an overflowing voicemail box, or lost on an assignment desk piled with papers. Reporters live in their inboxes, and that where you are most likely to get their attention. To ensure that you do, make your email subject line as interesting and informative as possible.

This is not the time for clever clickbait. Reporters delete that stuff all day. This is not the time for a thesis. If your subject line is so long that it’s cut off when it dings on a reporter’s inbox chances are they won’t read it immediately – or at all. This is the time to tell them exactly what your pitch is about all in about eight words. Get right to the point. Don’t worry about details yet. That comes in the body of the email. Right now you just want them to click open.

Clear Details
Tell the reporter clearly and plainly why they should do your story. If you have an exact time, date, and location put those at the top and make sure they are easy to read. Make your contact information clear so the recipient knows how to get a hold of you for questions. Explain what makes your pitch unique without coming off as overly clever. This is not an exercise in creative writing, it is a media pitch.

Brevity
Reporters have a lot of many things. Pens that are out of ink? Check. Half-full note books? Check. Coffee cups that should have been washed or thrown away months ago? Check. Endless blocks of time to read wordy press releases? Nope.

Your press release should be no more than two paragraphs. You don’t need to give them the whole history of your company, you just need to give them the reason they should cover this one thing. Use short sentences, and get to the point.

Don’t bother sending attachments. They won’t get opened. If you feel like you need to include optional additional information put a link in the body of your email. The link shouldn’t include anything essential to the pitch though, because chances are they won’t be clicked on.

Specificity
Your pitch should be as narrow in scope as possible. You are pitching an angle, not a broad topic. If you feel like your pitch has several angles then step back and turn them into several pitches. If you pitch reporters a topic they may be able to use another source for it. When you pitch them a story you are telling them why they can only get it from you.

Knowledge
There is nothing worse than being pitched by someone who obviously has no idea who you are as a reporter. Even if you are sending out your pitch to several reporters at once take time to personalize each pitch. Spell names correctly. Know what subjects they commonly cover. Look at their Twitter feed and see what they interested in. The media want your pitches. It makes their jobs easier because they don’t have to hunt for a story. That said, they don’t want to cover just anything. They want stories that are interesting, and unique. Send them a pitch that promises that, and then get ready to deliver.