In the pandemic era, capturing media attention has been tougher than usual. Journalists now work on smaller teams than they did before the pandemic and are juggling many more beats. So, B2B PR professionals have a small window to catch their attention, hold it enough for them to actually read a pitch, and find it interesting enough to want to take action.
The media pitch should also be short and personalized. It should outline the value of a story and convey to the editor why it’s worth their time and effort to publish a story on this topic. With these quick tips, you’ll be well on your way to writing stellar pitches that garner media attention and delight clients.
Compelling subject lines
As media professionals, we often underestimate the value of a great subject line. Journalists are flooded with hundreds of emails every day. What makes them pause to read one is a smart and thoughtful subject line.
The best subject lines include a stat, notable observation, or something contrary to the norm. For example, “DATA: 42% say AI will not take over.” A subject line should pique the interest of a journalist and prompt them to want to learn more. It’s helpful to keep subject lines no more than 10 words with an average character count of 64, according to Muckrack. Long subject lines are truncated when a reporter reviews their emails and will likely end up in their trash without even being reviewed. For example, a less compelling subject line would be “According to MIT, experts say AI won’t take over in the next decade.”
Keep it short and simple
Winning pitches are engaging, timely and succinct. Pitches that are opened by journalists are about 120-180 words. Journalists are busy people, so if you can’t frame a media approach with an interesting storyline in less than 180 words, it may be a good time to pause, reflect on what you’re trying to convey and rework the body of the pitch.
A winning pitch starts with an interesting intro paragraph (about 2-3 sentences) that highlights the thesis of the pitch. The body of the note should support that thesis. Be sure to start with an intro sentence that lays the foundation and makes the journalist want to read more.
For example, “As more of us switch from TV to streaming, advertisers are following. Spend on ad-supported streamers – Pluto TV, Roku, Peacock, etc. – grew more than 25% last year. Unfortunately, fraudsters are taking advantage, stealing millions from newbie streaming advertisers by spoofing devices and apps, and faking ad clicks and views.”
When reviewing the pitch, look for areas to improve readability. It may benefit from bullet points to break up heavy text. Bolding words or sentences will make the interesting nuggets stand out more, and journalists will appreciate being able to quickly scan a pitch and fully comprehend it. Pitches should also be jargon-free for the most part unless you’re reaching out to a technical journalist about a specific subject matter.
Have a clear call to action
When there is a clear call to action (CTA) at the top or middle of the pitch, it’s not buried and difficult for the journalist to find. Media should be able to quickly review and understand the takeaway. For example, a clear CTA can be:
Setting up an interview with a client
Sharing a byline article for consideration
Offering an expert as a guest for a podcast
It tells the editor whether they should action the pitch now or save it for future reference. Identifying and offering an expert source from the onset is a key value-add in the journalist-PR pro dynamic. And, it will help build lasting relationships.
Writing a media pitch should be second-nature to every PR person. But, journalists today have shorter attention spans than in the past. Taking the time for due diligence to ensure you’re targeting the right editor will go a long way in making you a go-to source for media inquiries and drumming up stellar media interest for internal or external clients.