PR Best Practices: Elements of a Strong Media Pitch
Public relations services include a breadth of essential business functions, from strategic messaging and brand positioning, to thought leadership and crisis communications. Still, most companies hire a PR agency for one core service: media relations.
As PR consultants, it’s critical that we continuously hone our expertise in this area. Doing so will strengthen our relationships with the press, build our clients’ reputations and ultimately generate the media hits that will move the needle for a brand’s business aspirations and strategic goals.
Understanding the dynamics of the media landscape is essential—it’s how we make the connections that meet reporters’ needs in a busy news cycle and share our clients’ stories with their target markets. That connection is made, most often, with a media pitch.
Here, we’ll break down the elements of a strong media pitch.
1. A subject line that sticks
Most reporters won’t open your email. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re new to the industry, but it’s the truth. In the battle for media attention, your subject line is your first line of defense. Make it catchy, short and sweet. You want every subject line to be brief enough to read on a mobile device or from a desktop inbox preview.
Avoid spammy language and instead make a clear offer. Is this a news embargo? The subject line should give the reporter an idea of the content of the pitch—and entice them to open your email for more information.
When in doubt, a savvy PR practitioner tests different headlines. Customize them to the outlet, the industry and the reporter. Get creative until you find a phrase that boosts the open rate for your emails.
Our final tip? Think like a journalist. Would your subject line make a good headline? If the answer is no, in most cases, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
2. A great hook
Now that the reporter has opened your email, you need to offer a compelling hook. If the opening line isn’t compelling, it’s likely the journalist won’t read any further.
In today’s constant news cycle, with understaffed newsrooms and a digitally-driven race to generate in-the-moment reporting, journalists and editors have limited time to sift through all inbound story ideas.
Make your opening line compelling. Maybe there’s a new stat, industry report or breaking news story that makes your pitch angle timely or urgent. Or, maybe you read the reporter’s latest piece (as you should!) and it has a special relevance to your pitch.
Whatever the draw is for your story, be bold. Make a claim. State a unique opinion. Above all, be up-front with the value you can provide, and start with a statement that frames the story angle and makes your pitch worth reading.
3. A strong narrative
A good PR strategy offers more than just a quick fact or two. You must deliver a compelling narrative. Again, think like a journalist and answer: “What is the story here?”
Add context to your pitch. Think about the story a journalist could write, and then use context to make a case for it. Consider the broader industry discussion your client can speak to, or the problem your client is solving.
And do the work for them. Back up your claims and commentary with credible sources, and link to them. Prove that you’ve done your due diligence, and give the reporter a newsworthy angle they can take to their editor’s desk.
4. A clear offer
Remember to make a clear offer in your pitch. Are you offering the reporter a free product sample from your consumer client? An interview with an industry thought leader? Exclusive news? Insider commentary on a breaking story? Be explicit, and let the reporter know in precise terms how you can be a resource for their next assignment.
You can increase interest and expand upon your offer with bullet points, an outline of key topics, a link or image to showcase the product, or even a downloadable digital asset. Keep the offer succinct and direct—and don’t forget to make a clear ask.
Ask the reporter if they’re interested in learning more, receiving samples, or setting up an interview and offer to answer any follow-up questions. Prove yourself and your agency as a valuable resource.
5. Good writing
Above all, remember that in media relations, you’re writing to a room full of writers. Double-check for spelling errors, grammar mistakes and AP Style issues. Any copy errors will undermine your credibility.
Keep the pitch concise. Cut out extra words and filler phrases. If a reporter needs to scroll through a lengthy pitch—especially on mobile—that’s one more roadblock to landing an interview.
Consider your audience, too. A pitch for a trade publication should look different from a national press outlet. Get to know the reporter’s beat and expertise, and tailor the pitch to their interests. A B2B pitch should be framed differently than a B2C pitch. For example, a tech pitch should not look the same as a lifestyle or beauty angle. Offer the reporter a story that their subscribers would want to read.
Do the work for them. Present a fully-baked narrative arc, or a hot take they can use to help their story stand out. Reporters are busier than ever, so the more research and resources you can offer—and the faster you can deliver them—the more likely it is that a report will include your client in their next article.
Whether you’re an experienced professional transitioning to a new market sector, or a rookie PR consultant looking to level up your skill set, it’s worthwhile to get back to basics.
Think you’ve mastered these? We’re always hiring.
Looking for a PR team who can turn your next announcement into a press-worthy media pitch? We can help with that, too. Work with us here.
Trust Relations Team