If you don’t have an existing relationship with a journalist, the first time they will see your name will be when your pitch drops into their email inbox. Needless to say, the first impression you create with that pitch has to be pretty special to get past the journalist’s desire to delete any email that won’t help them make deadline.
When crafting your pitch keep in mind what it is you’re actually presenting to the journalist. Are you asking them to consider you as an expert interviewee on a news topic that cropped up that morning? Are you pitching an article idea? Or are you pitching a media release for an event you want them to cover? Your reason will determine how the pitch is written.
Start out well by sending your pitch to the right person and spelling their name correctly. Media contacts do change from time to time, but it pays to do your research and check you have the right person before hitting send.
There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your pitch is noticed:
- Show why your pitch should be read right at the beginning – use the news item as your hook or, if you’re pitching yourself as an expert, explain early on why your opinion is relevant to their audience.
- Explain the topics you can discuss – you will always have a number of points you want to get across so explain these succinctly, again showing how they relate to the outlet’s audience.
- Be clear about what you offer – if the journalist doesn’t know who you are then you will need to add some background biographical information. You don’t need to go into too much detail in the pitch, but you do need to show why you should be considered the expert on your topic.
- Offer alternative angles – if the journalist doesn’t like your idea it pays to have one or two additional suggestions so they can consider these as well.
- Do your research – don’t just stop when you know you have the right contact and the audience fits; show you know the outlet by offering yourself for the media opportunity they prefer, such as an interview, an expert article or guest blog post.
If you follow these steps you are much more likely to find the journalist pitching your idea to their editor rather than deleting your email. And don’t forget, if they respond with a yes make it happen. There’s nothing worse than having to go back to the drawing board with a story idea because the source has changed their mind or developed stage fright.