Now that we have your attention, how can you grab the attention of a reporter?
Each day, an average reporter or editor receives anywhere from 100 to 300 press releases or pitches. Some reporters or editors with national outlets might receive thousands of releases a day. That’s on top of all of their own in-house email they have to sift through each day.
So you can imagine that if you want to spark the interest of a reporter or editor, you better do it fast, because you have mere seconds to grab their attention and let them know that what you are pitching is relevant to the news they cover. After all, reading releases and pitches is only part of their job; they still have stories to report and write.
Here are a few rules to follow when you are sending out releases or pitches to media, whether it’s print, electronic or broadcast.
Grab their attention
One TV producer has often joked that an easy way to get the attention of people in a newsroom is to put the words “FREE FOOD!” in the subject line of the email. While she’s not totally serious, she’s not far off the mark.
The subject line of the email has to inform the reader what your email is about, but it also has to be a little clever in order to get someone to open the email in the first place. Much like a good headline, an email subject line should summarize your idea and interest them enough to want to open the email.
Get to the point
Far too many writers waste two or three paragraphs of introduction before they ever get to the meat of their pitch or news release. Don’t treat your media pitch like a sales pitch, because that will turn reporters off and they are likely to refer you to advertising.
When writing a pitch to the media, treat it almost as if you were writing a news story: start with an interesting lead and then provide the facts about the story idea. You should also make sure that your news is timely, salient to the reporter’s beat and explains why their readers or viewers might be interested. If, for example, you have an interesting product you’re unveiling that will make it easier for an NFL team to track your geographic location to their stadium during a game and send social media posts to your phone that you can easily share on your own social media, then timeliness is of the essence because we are getting into the height of football season.
Provide interesting information
If a new software is producing outstanding results for your clients, create an infographic that you can share on your own company’s website. You can also share that infographic with the business media so they can better explain the facts and details about your product.
You also increase your chances of earning a media placement if you can share a real success story. If you have a client who is willing to share their success story and be interviewed by a reporter, then you have a source outside of your company who is willing to share evidence of why your product or service is working for them. All of the sudden, that makes the story more interesting to a reporter, who needs to have multiple sources for a story.
Know your audience
Finally, make sure you are sending your releases and pitches to the right reporters and editors. Before you send any news release or pitch to the media, you have to show that you know a little bit about that reporter and what beats they cover.
If an editor in Ohio receives a pitch from a company in the United Kingdom and there is no relation to any Ohio company at all, that pitch will end up in the trash can. If you send your pitch about your new cab company to a reporter who normally covers crime and not transportation or businesses, then it will go nowhere because the reporter will realize that you just picked a name off their directory and don’t really read or view their news.
By investing time in getting to know the reporters who cover your industry or service area, you can begin to build relationships with reporters who will come to know that you can be a dependable source for topics they cover for their outlets. It’s not quite as easy as offering free food, but a little homework and due diligence can pay off in the end.