Wouldn’t it be great if most reporters responded with interest to your pitches? In this article, we cover how reporters are evaluating pitches and the importance of personalized and relevant messaging.
Let’s start with a familiar scenario.
Your media relations team has been tasked with gaining impactful press coverage for some really exciting new research findings. The messaging has been carefully vetted with stakeholders in your organization. You have done your due diligence to identify a targeted set of reporters who all have written about topics relevant to your organization’s research. You’ve invested a lot of time into this initiative, and it’s time to pitch…
What are the things to keep in mind when you’re about to start pitching? How do you optimize for success, beyond diligent targeting?
The quickest way to get a message out is to send a generic email to the reporters you have targeted. Mistake.
Before you hit “send”, consider this…
PR professionals outnumber reporters by a factor 5:1.
A reporter writes 1-2 stories per day but receives more than 100 pitches.
Only 1 in 10 reporters say they often rely on PR pitches in their work.
2 out of 3 reporters assign importance to establish a personal connection before being pitched.
2 out 3 reporters prefer to collaborate on stories over getting pitched a finished product.
Bottom line - you’re about to enter a very crowded field, and before you fire off that email, it may be helpful to consider the following question: how am I going to earn the reporters’ attention?
First, it could be helpful to know what reporters care about when they evaluate PR pitches. Below you can learn more about factors to consider to optimize for pitching success.
Focus on Reporters’ Needs - Not Your Own
Armed with information about reporters’ needs and preferences, it’s easier to start viewing your pitch from their vantage point.
Would you open the email based on the subject line you’ve chosen?
Is the message personalized and relevant to the reporter?
Is it to the point?
Is it easy for the reporter to develop the story based links to research, insightful data and multimedia assets?
When are subject matter experts available for an interview and who are they?
The true litmus test of a successful pitch boils down to its relevance to its audience. This requires thoughtful personalization.
Personalization of Pitches
Personalization goes beyond addressing someone by their name (if you choose to send a pitch to more than one reporter at the time, you can use our mail-merge feature to address them by their name. A reporter rarely gets passed a “Hi there” opener).
A personalized pitch requires demonstration of background research and tying the relevance of the pitch to their past work. This is how to establish value and trust. The cost to you is time and effort. The gain is in standing out in the reporter’s cluttered inbox! Gaining a reporter’s trust and respect through demonstrating value is also an important long term investment. You have dramatically increased your chances of landing future coverage, even though they might pass on your pitch this time around.
Measuring Pitch Effectiveness
Now that you have sent your pitches, the work is not done. No. This is the time to be hyper-responsive. Meltwater will help you with some of the heavy lifting. We will track who opens your email and who reads it and overall measure how the pitch resonates. We strongly encourage using the email engagement metrics as a means to prioritize post-pitching activities, as well as using the data as a feedback loop to understand optimization opportunities for future pitching initiatives. You can learn more about the article below.
Successful pitching requires a combination of good research skills, empathy (what’s in it for the reporter vs what’s in it for you) and brevity.
Be relevant through diligent targeting
Be value-focused in your pitch-writing
Demonstrate an understanding of the reporter’s process by making it easier for them to develop the story.
And when you get fish on hook…
Be hyper-responsive to any requests for additional resources and interview requests. This is what you’ve been working so hard for.
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