Start by looking at what I write and who I write for and make your pitch relevant. To help with that I’ve prepared an information page that I’ll keep updated with a list of the main publications I’m currently writing for and what I’m doing. I’ll be reviewing that every month or so.
As my friend Simon puts it
READ THE PUBLICATIONS YOU PITCH TO BEFORE YOU PITCH TO THEM
MY CLIENT PARTICIPATES IN THE MARKET YOU ARE WRITING ABOUTî IS NOT A PITCH
Secondly, you can structure your pitch in a way that makes it easy for me to make a decision.
Here’s what doesn’t work: an email with a one liner that says something like “attached is the latest press release from Client X who has a new product/service” and all the information is buried in an attached PDF or Word document.
Here’s what will work.
1 – Use the term “Press release” or “Media Release” in the subject line of the email. that makes it easy for me to find your message.
2 – Make sure the subject line tells me the company and product/service.
These first two tips are incredibly important. I get over 100 messages on a quiet day so I don’t often get to read much beyond the subject. It’s like “Jerry Maguire” – you have to get me at “Hello”.
3 – A single paragraph (less than 100 words) explaining why whatever you’re bringing to my attention is special. For example, a release telling me that Client X has a new SaaS product is not useful – lots of companies have a SaaS product. Telling me that Company X’s new SaaS product offers a cheaper pricing model that can flexibly change as a client grows might be more interesting. The other benefit of this is is that I might not need that release for a couple of months. Having good content in the body of the email makes it easier to find.
4 – Think of the headline and lede. For something to be a story it needs a headline and a lede (a short, 10-15 word opening line). If you can’t come up with one then you may need to rethink your pitch.
5 – Have images available. Better yet, provide me with a link to high-res images (don’t attach 20MB images!) using services like WeTransfer or folder sharing using Dropbox, Box.net, OneDrive or Google Drive.
6 – Make sure your email can be easily read on a mobile device. If I have zoom or scroll to read it, you’ve made it too hard. Many journalists catch up on email during odd moments, like when standing in line or grabbing some lunch. That means reading on a smartphone.
7 – If you have a press release, don’t send an email saying “See attached release” or similar. If your client insists on sending a nicely formatted PDF press release, copy and paste the text into the body of the email. If I need the “pretty stuff” I’ll open it. But if all you send is an attachment with w a “please read” – i’ll ignore it.
8 – Email is reliable. Please don’t feel compelled to call me to check if the email arrived.
9 – Check my LinkedIn profile. I’m pretty good at keeping it up to date with what publications I’m currently writing for. I get a lot of pitches for magazines I stopped writing for years ago. Pitching me ideas and stories for publications i don’t write for is a waste of all our time.
10 – Make sure spokespeople are actually available and that the URLs in your release are correct.