Think about the last pitch you emailed to a journalist, or sent by snail-mail letter.
How long was it?
If it was longer than a paragraph or two, the journalist might have hit the “delete” key or thrown the letter into the wastebasket. Or if you started your phone pitch with “let me fill you in on a little background,” I’ll bet you didn’t get very far.
Wendy Cole, Time magazine’s Midwest correspondent and a member of a media panel that presented its best pitching tips to the Publicity Club of Chicago, said that when it comes to pitching, shorter is better.” And make the story pitch exclusive,” she said.
Publicity Hounds who want coverage anywhere, not just in Chicago, should follow the expert advice of all the panelists:
From Kate DeVivo, Today’s Chicago Woman:
“We don’t have enough access to female bartenders, architects and others in nontraditional female occupations. I would love to do more but need to know about them.” (Good advice if you’re trying to get into a woman’s publication.)
From Jeff Borden, Crain’s Chicago Business:
Know the names of the beat reporters. Read the on-line as well as the print publications to know what they do, how they write and what they write about. Contact reporters who cover your industry’s beat and ask them what they’reworking on and what they’re reading. Don’t send unsolicited press kits and expect reporters to spend valuable time reviewing them. And his best piece of advice? “If you offer me a scoop, we’ll be friends for life.” (This advice is true for any business journal.)
From Brenda Butler, Chicago Tribune magazine:
Press release headlines should clearly state what the story is about. She has little time to guess.
When you write a press release, do you write a sub-headline just under the main headline? If not, you’re missing a valuable tool to help grab the journalist’s attention. Marcia Yudkin says a sub-head is one of the 10 ways you can make your press release even stronger. She explains them all on “TheDo-it-Yourself Press Release Makeover: How to Turn a So-so Release into a Wildly Successful One.” It’s available as a cassette tape or CD.