Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day from public relations professionals. A lot of them may end up in the trash or get ignored, but many of them really, truly are used for stories. If that sounds surprising, you might be one of the PR professionals who is having trouble getting journalists to consider your pitches.
Just like a resume needs to stand out to a recruiter (especially in this economy), a pitch or press release needs to stand out to a journalist. But how can you do that? Let's review some of the ways we've successfully gotten the attention of journalists over the years despite their jam-packed email inboxes.
Craft an Enticing Subject Line
The rules of email marketing apply to PR, too. The first thing journalists will see when they receive an email is the subject, and it may be the deciding factor in whether or not your pitch is opened, let alone read. You can use the subject line to offer the journalist something of value, ask them a question, or make a joke. But you've got to give them something more than "Company X Announcement."
Include Visual Content in the Body
People love visual content, but it's often ignored in press releases in lieu of the usual press release format. Be different, and include a video or picture that adds value to your pitch. Just make sure these add-ons don't clog up their inbox, take too long to load, or render poorly on mobile devices.
A journalist should be able to scan through your pitch and quickly pick out the important information. Don't be afraid to use bullet points and numbered lists. Reading through full sentences takes too much of a journalist's time, and it is much easier for them to simply read through short phrases that explain the same thing in much fewer words.
Articulate Why the Pitch Matters
Tell journalists why your content is important. What makes it content that they simply cannot pass up? Is it a product launch? A strategic partnership? What about those things is going to rock their readers' world? Make sure to visually highlight the "so what" of your announcement -- whether by bolding, enlarging the text, or italicizing it -- so the importance of the pitch is clear, concise, and obvious.
Show Knowledge of the Journalist and Publication
Blindly pitching a journalist without performing any background research is a bad move. Researching what they have written about in the past, who they have interviewed, and what types of articles they write about. It will help you personalize your pitch and grab the attention of a journalist who is constantly inundated with generic, often irrelevant pitches. This also helps you build a relationship that will make it easier for you to get your stories published in the future.
Keep it Short
Never send a long email with giant, text-dense paragraphs to a journalist as your pitch. It is acceptable to attach press releases with more details than your pitch for the journalist to read over, but a pitch will be ignored if, at first glance, it just looked like a brain dump. And remember, formatting is your best friend when trying to make text-heavy sections of your email more palatable for the reader.
Get Rid of Fluff
Journalists don't have time for fluff. Flowery language is not helpful and should be saved for the story after it is written. Your pitch should get right to the point and provide only the absolutely necessary information.
What are other ways can public relations pitches can get the attention of journalists?
Photo Credit: Max F. Williams