How to Write a Media Pitch that Attracts Viral Attention
Press release pitching is one of the most difficult parts of a public relations profession. Combine your tight deadlines with the stress of unrealistic clients who want front page Wall Street Journal coverage for every new product launch or charity event, and you are destined for a stressful day.
Businesswire.com has a great article on writing press releases that will gain you media attention. However, while the tips for writing a press release that draws media attention are not much different than those needed to write a strong pitch, there are additional considerations needed to ensure you capture the attention of the one or two media journalist you want to see coverage from. That said; it’s helpful to keep these tips in your back pocket when developing a pitch.
Sell a pitch that includes several of the top eight importance factors in the body.
The Public Relations Journal recently released a study on the correlation between what journalists view as important news compared to what public relations professionals view as important news. While the study highlights that more times than not, media and public relations professionals weight the importance factors equally, pitches do not always include the details to draw media into those attention-grabbing facts.
Make sure that your pitch highlights at least three of the Journal’s eight importance factors, which include:
- Localness/proximity – relevant to your market / area
- Timeliness – recent or in the near future
- Immediacy – breaking news
- Prominence – includes people / places of interest
- Cultural proximity – how the topic relates to your local audience
- Unexpectedness – unique statistics or facts readers wouldn’t expect
- Human interest – entertaining/interesting
- Significance / consequence / importance – why people should care
Journalists are people too.
Just like you, journalists are people with real lives and crazy workloads. They are balancing their 200+ daily work emails with trips to the dry cleaners, late night soccer practices, and overnight deadlines. They do not have time to read a 500 word pitch. Keep your pitch short and to the point. Offer just enough detail to help them envision the start of their story before they even pick up the phone to talk to you.
Additionally, it is important to make your pitch personal. Begin a pitch addressed to the specific journalist’s name. If possible, bring up a personal detail about your relationship with him.
“Hi Jim – it was great meeting you at the trade show last week. I’d love to schedule some time for us to chat more about the new product launch I referenced during our conversation.”
A personal touch goes a long way. You might not always get the response you wanted, but you should at least get a response that will leave the door open for future pitch conversations.
Keep your pitches original.
Every journalist wants to have a breaking story. Pitching the same content to three leading newspaper publications will not receive a favorable response if more than one accepts the interview and they end up writing the same story. Include items in your pitch such as, “These details are exclusive and only will be shared with your publication,” or, “We wanted to share this news with you first.” If the publication is a strong one, it might be worth giving an exclusive interview to secure leading coverage and a great working relationship with the publication for the future.
Not sure you agree with the original approach? Check out this article from Forbes on the top tips for press release pitching, written by Mikal E. Belicove, a top Forbes columnist.