Best Pitching Tips and Mistakes to Avoid, From Three Girls Media
Whether your business provides a service or offers products to meet a specific need, one of the best ways to get your brand out to the world is through media pitching. Sending targeted pitches to the right media outlets can get you the exposure you’re looking for without the price tag of paid advertising. In this article, find out how to generate the perfect media list, write a flawless pitch and how to avoid some of the fatal mistakes.
Generating a Media ListThe first step in constructing the perfect pitch is generating a list of media outlets you want to share your products or services with. You can send your pitch to every contact you have and hope someone will bite, but that’s not the best method and can even be considered spam. Creating a list that is meaningful to your offering is the most tedious part of crafting a winning pitch, but the time and effort you put into your list will be rewarded in the end. Here are five pieces of advice to consider when you build your next list.
1. Define Your Angle
What is your pitch angle? Answering this question will go a long way in determining who you should send your pitch to. A food writer and a writer on parenting advice have drastically different needs; you wouldn’t want to send them both a pitch with the same angle. A well-defined angle will help you understand the audience you are trying to reach, allowing you to narrow down the best contacts who cater to the viewers you want to see your offering.
2. Know the Editorial Timing
If you want to share your holiday specials, you need to work approximately six months ahead of time. On the other side of the editorial spectrum, you don’t want to send a blogger your holiday specials six months in advance since they generally run 1-2 months ahead. By knowing how your angle relates to the editorial timing, you can decide which media contacts should go on your list and the ones you can leave off.
3. Be Selective
Take the time to go through your contacts. Just because they are in your address book doesn’t mean they should get your next pitch. Do your research on the contact to determine if they write about products or services similar to what you have to offer. It is also a great idea to determine the contacts role in their business. Unless the outlet is super small with one person running the show, a staff writer or blogger is better to reach out to than the editor in chief.
4. Check Your Resources
There are some great online resources to help reach reporters, especially those who are looking for specific topics to cover. Two free websites are Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and Pitchrate. You can research specific categories to see what reporters are looking to cover, taking some of the guesswork out of your contact building process.
5. Ask For Feedback.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone to look over your list. Getting a fresh set of eyes to look over it can help you further weed out contacts not fitting your angle and they can advise you on ones they haven’t had great interactions with. Plus, they may be able to offer suggestions for connections to add to your list that you may not have considered.
You’re done generating your media list, so now what? It’s time to focus on the content of your pitch. You can choose all the right contacts, but without a rock-solid pitch it means nothing. Take your time and really develop what you want to say and what they should know.
Here are six things you want to consider when drafting your perfect pitch.
1. Create an Eye-Catching Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing a reporter will see, and it’s the deciding factor on if your message will be opened or not. Even though it is an exceedingly small piece to your pitch, it can have a great impact on your success rate. Take the time to brainstorm catchy lines that grab the reporter’s attention.
2. Connect it to the Audience.
This is one of the most important writing tips I can offer. Within the first two sentences, clearly spell out why the journalist’s readers, viewers or listeners should care about your product or service. No matter how wonderful the reporter thinks the pitch is, if it doesn’t connect to their audience, they can’t justify sharing it with them.
3. Make it Timely
Although evergreen stories (articles that work any time of year) are great, adding a timely element to your pitch will give it some urgency. This could mean connecting your products or services to a holiday coming up or relating it to something in the news.
4. Offer Samples
When you hear the term “writing tips,” offering samples probably doesn’t come to mind, but when it comes to pitching, product samples are vital. If someone asked you to endorse something, wouldn’t you want personal experience with it first? Journalists feel the same way. If you’re going to ask them to share your products or services with their audience, make sure you’re willing to provide a way for them to experience what you’re pitching first-hand.
5. Use Statistics
Journalists love statistics! If you have any facts and figures you can add to your pitch, do it. If you have the numbers to back you up, they’ll add credibility to the products and services you’re pitching.
6. Add a Link
Including absolutely everything in the initial email can be overwhelming for the recipient and is a great way to get your pitch deleted. Instead, put the information up on your website and then add a link for the reporter to click for more details and hi-resolution photos. This allows an interested reporter to do additional research any time, day or night, without having to wait for a response from you.
Beyond these six tips, remember to use the inverted pyramid when writing. With this style, the most important details should be at the top of your pitch while the least important are at the bottom. This way, if the reporter doesn’t have the time, patience or attention to read your entire pitch, they will at least get the major elements of what you are offering.
Pitching Mistakes to AvoidYou’ve taken the time to create a precise media list and a flawless pitch, so don’t let it go to waste by committing a fatal pitching mistake. By taking into consideration these four common errors you will be able to avoid them, increasing your chances of your pitch landing the media attention you’re looking for.
1. It Isn’t About Them
One of the biggest pitching mistakes is not tailoring your pitch specifically to the reporter, the subjects that they cover and their audience, and making the pitch just about the features and benefits of your product or company. Do your research on the reporters and any recent stories they’ve covered. Find common ground and match your pitch to their interests. This will help you tell them why they should care about your story and why it would make a good fit for their readers.
2. It Isn’t Newsworthy
Sending a pitch about a new product may not catch a journalist’s attention and your pitch may end up in their trash folder. Your new product may not be newsworthy, but maybe an aspect of your business is. Did you just win a major award in your community? Now that’s news – especially to a local reporter! Sell the story to the journalist and lead with the most interesting details.
3. It Isn’t Personal
Reporters say they often receive pitches clearly sent to hundreds of other journalists. In order to make your pitch perfect, address each reporter by name and add their publication to the body of your pitch. Don’t send pitches using BCC, it will be obvious you’re sending mass emails.
4. It’s Too Long
A long pitch will probably get deleted. It takes longer to read and can seem presumptuous. Think: less is more. Try to fit all of the important details into a couple paragraphs. You also shouldn’t send attachments or your pitch may end up in a spam folder.
Impersonal, off-topic, lengthy or non-newsworthy pitches aren’t likely to turn into media placements. Avoiding these 5 mistakes will make your pitch perfect and help you stand out in a reporter’s inbox.