For PR pros, one of the most important parts of the job is to tell our clients’ stories in a concise and engaging way. If this can be done effectively, and with long-term strategy in mind, we’re setting a solid foundation for success.
The role of a great pitch letter in storytelling should not be underestimated. Here are some do’s and don’ts for your next round of media outreach.
Personalize It. Yes, you should obviously refer to the person by name (i.e. Hi Julia, as opposed to Hi Reporter), but go a step beyond that! Mention something that lets the reporter know you’ve really done your research and have a good understanding of his or her audience. Consider referencing a relevant previous story or even a recent tweet.
Include Timely Tie-ins. Without a topical reference, your client’s story may be considered “evergreen,” and the person you’re pitching may just hold on to it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not ideal. In your pitch note, let the journalist know why it’s essential to have a conversation with your client now. For example, if your client’s product is a must-have for football season or if your client has time-sensitive advice for business owners, let the journalist know why there is a sense of immediacy around the conversation.
Don’t Fear Rejection. Journalists and bloggers are going to say no and pass on the opportunity to cover even the most compelling client story. Many just won’t respond to you at all. And that’s OK. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back, review your outreach strategy, tweak your pitch and start again.
Judge a Book by its Cover (Note)? Don’t underestimate the power of a good subject line! It’s what people see first (and sometimes it’s the only thing they see). What’s written in your subject line is just as important, if not more important, than what’s in the pitch note itself.
Recently, when reaching out on behalf of a client who was interested in offering expert tips for students regarding their finances, a colleague had a lot of luck with the subject line: “More Beer Money for Incoming Freshman? Assess Your Assets as the Semester Starts!” – this intriguing line resulted in interview requests by humorously piquing journalists’ interest right off the bat.
Be Visual. If relevant to your pitch note, include low-res images and/or a link to a video. These days media is very visual, so let reporters know you have images/video to accompany a story. Video and images are helpful for the journalist and also your client – typically, more pictures + video = bigger story!
What are some of your pitch perfect PR tips?