When you email a story idea to the media, does it include the eight key elements of the perfect pitch?
- A compelling, not cute, subject line
- No more than one screen of type
- Mentioning a specific section of the newspaper or magazine, or a specific part of a TV or radio show, where your story would be a good fit. This lets them know you are familiar with what they cover.
- Just enough information about the story so that journalists want more.
- Why people should care or why the story is important. (Quote statistics or mention a trend.)
- The little “extras” that will score you points such as offering photos or information for graphics. Or letting journalists know you can provide names and contact information of other people who they can interview.
- No attachments. But you can link to a website where they can find more information.
- No mass emails. Send separate emails to each journalist and address them by name.
I mentioned the eight traits of the perfect pitch yesterday, when I teamed up with Dan Janal of PR Leads. We were the guest presenters for the monthly telephone seminar for intermediate-level members of the Internet Association of Information Marketers.
To illustrate my point about pitching, I created this fictional email pitch.
The subject line was “Story idea: Fake ID cards.”
“Fake ID cards are popping up all over town. College students are using them to get into bars. Drunks who have had their licenses yanked for drunken driving are reproducing fakes. And illegal immigrants are using fake green cards.
“I’m a local private investigator who can supply eight tips on how local businesses can spot fake IDs and what they should do when they come across one. This story would be a perfect fit for the “News you can use” section in Saturday’s Daily Tattler. I can also supply four fake ID cards, which you can use in a photo to accompany the article.
“You can call me at 262-284-7451 or on my cellphone at 262-826-1234.”
Short. Sweet. Packed with details. What journalist wouldn’t pounce on that story?
If your press releases aren’t getting the response you had hoped, turn them into pitch letters that you can email. On the CD or electronic transcript called “How to Write a Pitch Letter More Powerful Than a News Release,” BL Ochman shows you how to write chatty, compelling pitches that leave a journalist wanting more. Her pitch letters have landed her clients in top-tier publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.