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I often write about media pitching, and with good reason — pitching media the right way can really boost your business. As I recently wrote in 5 Ways to Ace Your Media Outreach, knowing your media is the first step. Once you do, it’s time to go a step further by digging deeper and really perfecting your pitching efforts.
Here are some best practices to consider:
The spin/pitch and the HUH factor
How you pitch is as important as what you pitch. When it comes to pitching media, less is more, especially for producers sifting through 1,000+ pitches a week. With this in mind, your subject line is often more important than your pitch because it’s what drives whether or not your email even gets opened. Keep it short and snappy and most of all, relevant.
- Back up your statements. Cite studies you have access to, or even recent articles to lend credibility to your message. Be the expert the media needs.
- Think HUH: hip, unique and helpful. The perfect pitch is always helpful, because that’s what the media wants — whether it’s actual help, or even inspiring, educating or entertaining
- Keep it short. Think “above the fold” — your idea should be a single paragraph (or less)! Don’t send attachments ever on your first pitch; instead, provide a link to more information. Since most people look at emails on their phones, consider adding a teaser at the top before the salutation.
The perfect pitch ties into what’s trending.
The media is always anchored to what’s going on right now or, what might be coming up. Whenever there’s a news story you can comment on, make sure you have a pitch that’s tight, targeted and ready to go. A great way to get a sense of how the “spin” works is to look at national news and your local news stand.
Pitching the right people
Just like we talked about knowing your media, once you’ve found your target outlets, it’s important to pitch the right people at each place. Typically, they won’t pass along a pitch to the right person so it’s important to go after the right person to start with. Don’t pitch a show host, unless the host is also the producer of the show. Also, keep in mind that national (and some regional) media is much more formal than a blogger pitch. You must prove you know your stuff right there in the pitch, and tell a complete story.
Should you pitch multiple people at one outlet?
Typically, no. But if you do, consider giving them the heads up that you’ve also pitched so-and-so for this at their outlet so no one is blindsided when they — and several colleagues — bring your pitch to a meeting.
While you shouldn’t be a beast, it’s great to do some follow up. Don’t say “Did you get my email?” Instead consider approaching with another pitch and/or any updates, new features or an additional newsworthy angle. If they don’t respond, don’t feel disheartened. Although it means that they got it and there was no interest, it’s not personal.
Press kits and press releases
Press kits are going the way of the dinosaur, and it’s really best to not mail a press kit since they are typically discarded. You can, however, put one online in your media room.
As far as press releases, they are fine as long as you have real news to share. In our world of non-stop breaking news, save your time and your news for when you have something really big to announce.
Your media room
A well-done online media room will spice up your website. This is a great place to store things like your bio, headshot and any other media where you’ve been interviewed or featured. This can be a simple area of your site, but it’s a one-stop shop for you media materials and anything an interviewer might want to look over (hint: include a list of topics you can speak or comment on!).
Finally, to pitch successfully, you must be out there — blogging, tweeting, networking and sharing your content and ideas. Make yourself attractive and make your online presence into your compelling resume, so when the media starts researching you they realize you are the expert they want! While getting media attention is harder these days, the rewards can be tremendous once you get into the right rhythm of following best pitching practices. Take some time to perfect your pitch, and you’ll likely find that the possibilities are endless.