Last Update: 11/3/14
If you read my last article, you have all the tips and tools for creating a knock-out press release. Now what to do with it?
To truly reach your target media audience and yield maximum results, there’s no better way to distribute your brand’s information than via one-on-one pitching. Yes, this is time intensive. Yes, it requires thought, creativity and some digging. But, if you truly want to break through to those media outlets that count, this is the way to do it.
I pitch 99% of the time via email. Forget about calling – editors barely have time to eat, let alone take a cold call. Snail mailing pitch letters was left in the last century (unless you come across one of those rare editors who will only accept mail). I think I’ve faxed a pitch maybe a handful of times ever. Send an email without any attachments, and feel free to send a follow-up email in 2 weeks if you haven’t heard back. If you still don’t hear back, they’re probably not interested.
Your pitch acts as an intro to your release and other information you are submitting, so imagine it as a miniaturized, condensed version. Your pitch should accomplish the following:
Identify your Audience
Who (i.e., the contact and media outlet) are you pitching? Sounds easy enough. But when you’re sending the same pitch to numerous outlets (think emailing a pitch individually to 50+ blogs), it’s easy to get things mixed up.
Always, always, always triple check your pitch and make sure the person you’re addressing matches the person and media outlet in the body of your pitch. (E.g. Don’t send an email to Fashionista saying “I’d love for my fashion line to be considered for Style.com. Major no-no.)
Identify your Goal
Are you pitching for a news story? A market pull? A specific page, column or segment? A specific shoot or issue? Be as specific as possible.
Convince your Audience
Editors, writers, producers, etc. are bombarded every day with pitches from brands wanting to be in the spotlight. It’s not enough to just relay the information. Make your story, product or service stand out by highlighting what makes it different. What sets your brand apart from the rest? Convince your audience why their readers will want to know about your product.
Leave a Call to Action
Sounds like a “duh!” statement but nonetheless—never end a pitch without leaving a contact email and phone number for more information, samples, hi-res images, interview requests, etc.
Don’t Forget Format
When developing your pitch, be succinct. Editors are busy people – if they open up an email and see a pitch with no light at the end of the tunnel, they’re probably going to delete it. Just like the first paragraph of your release, keep your pitch short and to the point. Below the pitch I recommend pasting your release, and if you have an HTML email program, embedding a low-res image or two of your product or service. Just remember – never, never, never send an unsolicited attachment, especially one of a large size. The last thing you want to do is slow down or crash an editor’s mail server.
Remember ‘This’ And Don’t Do ‘That’
Something I cannot stress enough is to know your audience. If you’re pitching 50 media outlets, guess what? You need to read, watch, and regularly view all fifty of them.
Be sure the contact and outlet you are targeting covers the topic you are pitching. Again, sounds simple enough, but the quickest way to get on an editor’s black list (besides sending hi-res file attachments) is to send an off-target pitch. Be sure to stay on-target.
Don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back. An editor will not write back to every single pitch that isn’t a fit and say, “Sorry this isn’t a fit.” They don’t have the time. If they’re interested, they’ll get in touch. And don’t be surprised if you get a response weeks or months down the road – sometimes editors will save pitches that are relevant to their content until a fit does, in fact, come up.
So, now that you have all the tools for a successful pitch, how to go about finding contact info? Well, this is understandably where having a PR agency in place can come in handy. However, there are ways to go about finding contact info on your own. Having started my own agency from scratch, I know this all too well.