Pitching Guide: Dos and Don'ts
If there's one question I'm constantly asked it's "How do we pitch to you so that our client/product/story gets coverage?"
Start by looking at what I write and who I write for and make your pitch relevant. To help with that I've prepared an information page that I'll keep updated with a list of the main publications I'm currently writing for and what I'm doing. I'll be reviewing that every month or so.
As my friend Simon puts it
READ THE PUBLICATIONS YOU PITCH TO BEFORE YOU PITCH TO THEM
“MY CLIENT PARTICIPATES IN THE MARKET YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT” IS NOT A PITCH
Secondly, you can structure your pitch in a way that makes it easy for me to make a decision.
Here's what doesn't work: an email with a one liner that says something like "attached is the latest press release from Client X who has a new product/service" and all the information is buried in an attached PDF or Word document.
Here's what will work.
1 - Use the term "Press release" or "Media Release" in the subject line of the email. that makes it easy for me to find your message.
2 - Make sure the subject line tells me the company and product/service.
These first two tips are incredibly important. I get over 100 messages on a quiet day so I don't often get to read much beyond the subject. It's like "Jerry Maguire" - you have to get me at "Hello".
3 - A single paragraph (less than 100 words) explaining why whatever you're bringing to my attention is special. For example, a release telling me that Client X has a new SaaS product is not useful - lots of companies have a SaaS product. Telling me that Company X's new SaaS product offers a cheaper pricing model that can flexibly change as a client grows might be more interesting. The other benefit of this is that I might not need that release for a couple of months. Having good content in the body of the email makes it easier to find.
4 - Think of the headline and lede. For something to be a story it needs a headline and a lede (a short, 10-15 word opening line). If you can't come up with one then you may need to rethink your pitch.
5 - Don't send me a large attachment unless I ask. If the attachment is over 300kb I may come and visit you with a lead pipe. A lot of the time I'm on a mobile broadband connection. A large attachment can choke that connection and severely hinder my productivity.
6 - Email is reliable. Please don’t feel compelled to call me to check if the email arrived.
7 - If there's a contact name on the press release make sure that the contact is actually available. That means being ready to answer calls for the time immediately after the release is sent and email doesn't have an "out of office" message turned on.