Do you want to know how to write a media pitch?
Then this is the guide for you.
The public relations email template we are going to dissect is responsible for getting national and international media coverage for our clients.
Vicki wanted to let the media know she was launching the world’s first wholegrain gluten-free flour.
This is how she pitched it – and it’s how you should pitch every story to the media.
For your media pitch to work, you must have:
- Uncovered the news story in your business
- A quality press release that communicates your story
- The name and contact info of the precise journalist you want to pitch on your media list
- A comprehensive PR plan so you’re not just a one-hit wonder
When you have all four we can start.
Your email address
Always send your pitch from a credible email address. Preferably from your company domain.
No journalist will take you seriously if they get a mail from firstname.lastname@example.org
Look professional. Always.
This is the first step to answering the question – how to get my story heard?
2.Email pitch subject line
The subject line of your email pitch must contain your news hook – the one thing that makes your story stand out and demand a journalist’s attention.
Most journalists get at least 200 pitch emails a day. If your email subject line doesn’t grab them, your media pitch is dead in the water, even if you use a PR tool such as Response Source.
Always think how you can help a reporter out.
What makes your story newsworthy?
Your story must contain some element that makes it a ‘first’, disruptive, innovative, counter-intuitive, or a powerful human interest story. This is key to getting attention.
(If your pitch is based around an event here’s how to write a press release for an event.)
If your email header doesn’t contain any of these the journalist will hit delete.
Keep it short. Your subject line should be fewer than eight words and is usually based on the attention grabbing headline of your press release.
The journalist’s name
Sounds simple, but make sure you spell the journalist’s name correctly.
Journalists are obsessed with typos and grammar. If you can’t be bothered to make sure you’ve got their name right they will hit delete.
Remember, the journalist is looking for any reason to ignore you – don’t give them an easy one.
The first sentence of your email pitch
Get straight to the point – journalists are time-poor and appreciate direct emails.
No need for pleasantries, such as ‘how was your weekend?’ etc.
Simply say, ‘Please find attached and below a story about MY NEWS ANGLE’.
By using the term ‘story’ and not ‘press release’ you are talking the language of the journalist and immediately showing them that you have something they need.
This is important: Get your news angle in the first sentence.
If you’ve created a quality press release then you have identified what makes your story newsworthy.
Simply lift the information from the first paragraph of your press release.
By now 99% of journalists will have decided whether or not they are interested in your story.
They are simply looking for quality news story and feature story examples.
Indicate you care about the journalist’s work
It helps to show you admire the journalist’s previous work.
Don’t be gushy but show you know they write about stories like yours.
Personalizing your pitch like this is how the pros do it because it’s the opposite of SPAM EMAIL.
No journalist will take a pitch seriously if they think it has been sent to another 300 journalists – they want to be the first to tell your story, not the last.
Additionally linking your story to a previous article the journalist has written recently gives them the idea for a ‘follow-up’ to their original piece – something they are ALWAYS looking to do.
Don’t be a copycat
Do NOT, under any circumstances, include a line in your pitch which basically says “I saw you wrote a story about ‘X’ last week. My business does the same thing, will you write about us?”.
Journalists hate this.
They’ve done that story – they want something new.
Including your press release
Always make sure that you copy and paste your press release (with a quality boilerplate) into the body of the email immediately after the text of your pitch.
Yes, you can attach it too but many journalists dislike attachments, it’s just another thing to go wrong, so stick it right into the body of the email.
Attaching images to your media pitch
If you are including images attach them to the email – NEVER embed them in the press release.
The images will need to be at least 1mb in file size, but not so big that they jam up the journalist’s inbox.
(Update: you can also send your images as a dropbox link.)
Images to send:
- a headshot of the person quoted in your press release
- an image of your product
Closing your email pitch
Always end on a useful note – remember your job is to help the journalist do their job.
Invite the journalist to contact you if they need any more information.
Triple check before hitting ‘Send’
This is your one and only opportunity to impress this journalist and convey to them you have a decent news story.
Before you rush to hit send – check, check, and check again.
If your pitch looks rushed and sloppy the journalist will ignore it – take the time to get it right.
You may well be pitching to the same journalist multiple times, you want yours to be an email that gets opened.
Follow up email after no response
It’s been three hours and I haven’t had a response should I give the journalist a call?
Journalists are incredibly busy. Remember, you are there to help them do their job, not harass them.
Give it three days and then send a follow-up email to ensure they got your first one. Chances are they haven’t read it yet and this will prompt them to do that.
Here’s a polite follow-up email sample you can use:
If there’s still no reply you could give them a phone call after two more days but pick your moment.
Pro Tip: Don’t send your email follow up at the end of the day. They are on a deadline and you won’t get a pleasant response.
If you’ve tried three times and still had nothing back – it’s time to move on.
Guardian journalist Emma Sheppard has a three email rule and that’s pretty standard.
When you are trying to master how to write a media pitch, you’re trying to find the fine line between tenacity and pestering!
The start of a relationship
If you do get a positive response to your media pitch email then this is your opportunity to build a relationship with the journalist.
That means you need to stay positive and be super helpful.
They may well want to interview you over the phone to get additional quotes, ask for further information about your business or even – on rare occasions – arrange a photo shoot.
Bend over backwards to meet their requests.
If you don’t, the next business in line WILL do this and they will be the ones who secure the media coverage you are after.
But if all goes to plan your pitch has done its job and you have just secured some awesome media coverage for your business.
Great work. You have just learned how to get in the news.
You now know how to write a media pitch
The key to pitching your press release successfully is to get into the mindset of helping the journalist to do their job.
Whether you want to submit articles to newspapers or pitch the hottest business website the rules of the game are the same.
Follow the steps laid out in this guide on how to write a media pitch and you will massively increase your chances of success, whatever your overarching marketing communications goals are.
If you can identify the news angle, and include it in your email subject header, yours will be one of a few emails that actually gets opened and read.
Then if your email cuts to the chase and makes it clear that you have something the journalist needs, you’re over the next hurdle.
And if you do this enough?
You will beat the odds and get the media coverage you deserve. Maybe not every time but you will be light years ahead of your competition.
You will be one of the few businesses getting attention – serious press coverage. You may even be invited to give an interview so make sure you do some basic media training.
6 Tips on How to Contact The Media About a Story
- Have a killer email subject header
- Cut to the chase – don’t waffle, be newsworthy
- Show you care about the journalist’s previous work
- Embed your newsworthy press release
- Respond to requests for extra information immediately
- Be persistent – not pushy
This essential PR kit includes proven email templates, phone scripts, media photo checklists and pitch prep sheets so you can drop the nerves and pitch ANY story with confidence.