9 ways to avoid pitching reporters a ‘turkey’

You might be dreaming of a delicious bird with a side of mashed potatoes and stuffing you’ll soon eat, but don’t extend the meal to your media relations efforts. Instead, follow these tips.

It might be hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is almost here.

With that theme in mind, how can you make sure your next media pitch isn’t a “turkey?”

Here are some tips to follow:

1. Send it to the right reporter.

One of the first steps in successful media pitching is selecting the right reporter(s) for your pitch. If you don’t research this appropriately, the rest of your work may be for naught.

Seventy-nine percent of reporters surveyed said they wish PR pros would spend more time choosing the right journalists and crafting pitches with their beats in mind. You can do your own research online or use a media database, if you have access to one.

2. Tie it to a trend. To make your pitch stand out, try tying your news to a trend. Use key words and phrases in your research that relate to your topic to unearth trends that may be a fit.

3. Cite the data. It’s no secret that reporters love data. If you don’t have your own research to cite, use someone else’s.

Again, research comes into play here. Do your homework to find relevant data to support your claims.

4. Keep it brief. When you’re receiving hundreds of email messages (some reporters say they receive more than 100 pitches per day), you don’t have time to read a pitch longer than a paragraph.

Better yet, add bullets to catch a journalist’s eye and highlight your points.

5. Don’t neglect your subject line. You spent a long time crafting you pitch—but how much thought did you give your subject line?

It’s the first thing the reporter will see, so don’t gloss over this piece of your pitch.

6. Proof it. Errors run rampant in today’s “hurry up and get it out” world. You might be under deadline to get your pitch out, but don’t forget this important step.

Spell check alone won’t cut it, but you can try an app like Grammarly or Hemingwayapp (both have free versions) if you have no one to proof or edit your work. It can make or break your opportunity, as some reporters delete pitches with errors.

7. Send it in an email. According to a survey of reporters, 81 percent prefer email pitches with no attachments.

Phone calls are still unpopular (no surprise), although they can work. If you must call, it’s best to do it after you’ve tried sending an email. Leave a voice message and then immediately re-send your email (and say that in your message). You can also try reaching a journalist via social media.

8. Offer third-party sources. Provide information that’s useful and expert sources who can back up your story. If you have customer, partner or analyst sources you could offer along with your pitch to provide credibility, do so. Vet your sources first by asking if they would accept a call or email from a reporter.

9. Follow up. Don’t make the mistake of sending a pitch once and stopping there. If you don’t receive a response, follow up.

Send a follow-up email or try getting in touch via social media. Some reporters accept pitches through Twitter’s direct messages, even if you’re not following each other. It’s OK to use the phone to follow up on occasion—but use it sparingly, as mentioned in point No. 7.

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.

Topics: PR

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