by Rodger D. Johnson @ www.sociallyrelevant.us
If you want make the six o’clock news, earn media coverage in a newspaper, magazine or get invited to be a guest on talk radio – the pitch is your secret weapon. So many times, however, this is where companies blow it. The pitch is more important than a press release. Studies tell us we have about three seconds to make a first impression, so you must make it count. The same principle applies to writing a pitch, because it’s the first piece of communication between you and a journalist. Here’s how to make it count.
Make the Pitch Personal
Having been a journalist, I’ve seen my fair share of canned pitches, followed by a press release. Sometimes, folks were lucky and wrote a snazzy subject line, which caught my attention. But a generic greeting was always disappointing, and showed a lack of preparation. Do your homework first, and then use the journalist’s name in the introduction. Period.
Know The Audience and Pitch to Their Interest
I don’t know how many times folks pitched me off topic. It was quite annoying at first, but then my best friend became the delete key. Knowing a journalist’s audience is about doing research, which starts with reading the content they create. Look for a hole in their coverage of a topic, and craft a pitch to fill that void.
Make It Short and Sweet
Research tells us email messages more than four sentences long are less likely to be read. So make your pitch in four sentences, and offer the journalist something of value. Here are four points to consider:
- Give a journalist the most interesting fact or position in the very first sentence.
- Distill the meat of your story quickly in the second and third sentences.
- Offer the journalist something useful – and free.
- And if you can, suggest an interview.
Be Useful to Journalists
The idea here is very simple, understand the day and life of journalists. They are busy, information junkies. It’s their drug. To follow up from the pitch, offer them digested information, such as summaries, fact sheets, executive briefs, etc. These are infinitely more valuable, at-a-glance resources. Earning media coverage is probably the single most valuable activity you can do to drive website traffic, generate leads, even increase sales. With these tips you can do it right the first time.