With the media’s attention becoming more and more difficult to capture, it's essential to master the perfect pitch. Media pitches are a bit of an art form. Why, because especially with national media, but also with regional media, and even bloggers, it’s important that each aspect of your pitch be on point. Today, I’ll be teaching you some great practices to consider.
How to Develop Your Pitch
First, it’s key to know that how you pitch is almost as important as what you pitch. And when it comes to media, less is truly more. (This is not always the case with bloggers, but often can be.) Imagine if you are a producer at a major outlet and receive 1,000+ pitches each week. Sounds daunting, right? It’s the reality for many people, so let’s take a look at how to get noticed despite all that noise.
Your subject line is probably more important than your pitch. If no one opens your email, then it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying. So make your email subject line pop. Keep it short and snappy and most of all, relevant.
Back Up What You’re Presenting
So they’ve opened your email. Now what? Whatever claims you’re making need to be supported by something significant. How do you show this? Cite studies, polls, or even other stories that corroborate what you’re saying. Lending credibility to what you are saying makes you seem more an expert than implying “because I said so.” Need to find some statistics? Take a look at your trade publication subscriptions. Gallup polls are another great resource. If you are the expert, you should have basic backup at your fingertips.
Think HUH: Hip, Unique, and Helpful
The perfect media pitches should always, always be helpful, because that’s what the media is looking for (i.e. how will this help my audience?). HUH is one of my favorite acronyms. Keeping in mind that being helpful to media could go beyond the tradition meaning of “help.” While it certainly could be helpful to their audience, you really want to help your new media contact by sharing something inspiring, educating, or even entertaining.
Short and Sweet is Best
Rework and refine your idea until it fits into a paragraph, a short paragraph that fits ‘above the fold.’ Your media contact should not have to keep scrolling; if they’re interested, they’ll either ask for more info or follow your web link. Their response is your opportunity to load them up with any additional information you want them to have. It follows then, that you shouldn’t send attachments on your initial outreach. You don’t want your pitch getting lost in a spam filter because of an attachment.
And, since most of us read our emails on a mobile device which often provides a preview, consider adding a teaser that builds on your subject line before your greeting.
Find an Angle That’s Trending
In today’s 24/7 news cycle, the media is hungry for what’s going on right now, or even what’s coming up next. Whenever there’s a news story you can comment on, an upcoming holiday or season, or something else that’s looming, be prepared with a concise targeted pitch. If you need ideas for figuring out what’s trending, take a look at the evening news or your local newsstand.
Broadcast news programs typically offer a bridge just before commercials to tease the audience with an upcoming story later in the broadcast. These teasers offer a good sense of how the media likes to get their pitches. The better your pitch can align with these ideas, the better your prospects of getting picked up.
The magazine covers at your local newsstand will give you more ideas for short, sweet ideas to pique the media’s interest with a spin
Media Pitches That Are ‘On Trend’
Looking for some specific examples? Here are some seasonal ideas we have used in the past to pitch our clients:
Holiday: Valentine's Day
Hook: Did You Know You Could Meet Mr. Right in a Soup Kitchen?
The story behind the hook: Our volunteerism author commented on how singletons are meeting their significant others while volunteering. While her book did not focus on singles and volunteerism, she knew enough about this topic to comment on it. Once we did our research we found that single volunteer organizations were springing up all across the country.
Hook: Give Your Kids the Gift of Laughter This Holiday Season!
The story behind the hook: We were working with an author who specialized in the importance of humor and children. He offered ways to give kids the gift of a lifetime: laughter.
Calendar hook: Fire Prevention Week
Hook: How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson
The story behind the hook: Our author had a book about organizing but the title pulled right into Fire Prevention Week, so while promoting it around other dates that supported organization, we also pushed it during Fire Prevention Week!
Calendar hook: Holidays
Hook: When Airplanes and Relatives Don’t Leave on Time
The story behind the hook: This was a humor-based book about family dynamics around the holidays. The media loved this, we got tons of radio, print, and TV for this hook! We also had the good luck (or bad, depending on your perspective) of a massive snowstorm that shut down the east coast and ground most transportation right after Thanksgiving so it was a great local tie-in.
These are some subject lines we’ve used very recently to pitch national media, with very relevant and timely tie-ins to current news.
- Will Technology Vaporize Your Job?
- Is Fake News Making You Sick?
- Is Post-Election Stress Disorder Killing Us?
- Is Your "Cold" More Than Just a Virus?
Finally, you can’t find success in a vacuum, no matter the strength of your media pitches. Someone who receives great media and blogger attention and enjoys great success is constantly “out there.” You should have an active blog that shows your expertise, even in short bursts. If you’re not already tweeting, networking and sharing your ideas on social media, start immediately. Another great idea is featuring all of your biggest hits on your website in a media room. Not only does this show your growing success, but it gives the media a place to find you and learn more about your expertise.
Think of your online presence like you would a resume. It should be polished, highlight what you have to offer and present you/your expertise like a virtual job application. If you do it right and keep networking, you won’t be able to keep up with all of the opportunities!
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