Skip Navigation Accessibility Statement

The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

How to Write a PR Pitch That Gets Results: 7 Journalist-Approved Tips

female sitting and typing on laptop

The ability to craft an effective PR pitch is at the core of the public relations profession. Not only does pitching help secure coveted earned media that builds brand awareness, but it also helps build rapport and relationships with journalists that can prove beneficial over time. 

But as findings from the most recent State of the Media Report show, journalists are inundated with pitches every day, so it’s more important than ever that your pitch stands out and provides a compelling reason for them to cover your story. 

Of course, writing a pitch that stands out and grabs the attention of journalists and editors is easier said than done. Fortunately for you, we have input from more than 3,000 journalists all over the world, participants from our most recent State of the Media survey, that uncovers exactly what they look for when evaluating pitches and deciding what to cover – and what to ignore. 

Tips For Writing an Effective PR Pitch

1. Start with a Relevant, Newsworthy Angle

For a journalist to pay attention to your pitch, it needs to offer a fresh, interesting news angle that their readers will care about. “That their readers will care about” is key here. When asked, in the most recent State of the Media survey, what makes a “perfect” PR pitch, the answer most journalists gave, overwhelmingly, was the need for it to have relevance to their audience.

Before drafting your pitch, ask yourself:

  • Why is this story relevant and important right now? 
  • How does this tie into current events or trends? 
  • What makes this different from what's already been covered? 

Provide a clear, concise reason a journalist should write about your story in the very first line of your pitch. Don't make them hunt for the hook – give it to them up front.

Go beyond just announcing a product launch, new hire, award, etc. Look for a unique angle that ties your news into a broader trend or topic the outlet's readers are interested in.

2. Lead with a Compelling Subject Line

The vast majority of journalists prefer to be pitched via email, yet more than half are inundated with up to 100 or more email pitches each week. So while email is the way to go with how you deliver your pitch, for your pitch to stand out, your subject line needs to be both attention-getting and informative, clearly conveying what your PR pitch is about.

Avoid gimmicky clickbait tactics (words like “urgent,” “groundbreaking,” or “breaking news”) and marketing jargon, which journalists cited as the kind of terms they see in email pitches that immediately make them hit “delete.” Further, more than half of journalists will block a PR professional who sends them pitches that sound like marketing brochures.

Keep your subject line short – under 10 words if possible – and get to the point quickly. (In other words, do as journalists would do and “don’t bury the lede.”) Consider using brackets to quickly identify the topic, like [Travel] or [Tech]. And spark curiosity by hinting at the newsworthiness, like "New Data on..." or "Why X Trend is Growing."

3. Make It Skimmable

Once you have journalists’ attention with your subject line, you need to keep it. As noted above, journalists are slammed with email pitches, so your pitch should be easy to skim so journalists can get the facts they need at a glance. Use short paragraphs of two to three sentences and break up the text with bullet points highlighting key points. 

Your pitch should cover the who, what, when, where, and why of your story as briefly as possible. Include enough information for journalists to decide if it’s something they want to pursue further and invite them to reach out for further details. 

Wrap up with a clear call-to-action, like "I'm happy to provide more details or set up an interview with [X]." Make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step if interested.

4. Include Multimedia

According to our report, including multimedia as part of their pitch is one of the top ways journalists told us PR professionals could “make their lives easier.” Moreover, 55% of journalists are more likely to pursue a pitch if it includes multimedia. However, providing the right type of multimedia for the story you’re pitching, and the outlet you’re targeting, makes all the difference. (For instance, a print-only publication has no use for a video, just as a radio host has no use for an infographic.)

5. Offer Up an Expert Interview

Including a quote from an authoritative voice in your PR pitch can provide an added sense of credibility to the story you want journalists to cover. Offering up an interview with an industry thought leader can further pique their interest in your pitch. 

In fact, journalists explicitly want PR professionals to pitch interviews. When asked about the ways in which PR professionals can make their job easier, the most popular answer (second only to “understand my audience and what they find relevant”) was “connect me with experts and set up interviews.” 

Just be sure that your interview subject is both available and properly prepared for any interview requests, as journalists have no patience for PR professionals who fail to deliver on what they promise. 

6. Make Their Day Using Data

Including data in your pitch is almost always a surefire way to grab attention. Journalists love getting their hands on original research, such as trends, market dynamics, industry insight, polls, and surveys. More than half of those surveyed for our State of the Media report said this rates extremely high on their list of most-wanted content from PR professionals. The appeal of data is further evident with data visualizations/infographics ranking second as the form of multimedia most used by journalists in the last year, and that number is only increasing. 

Not only does data make for a more interesting pitch, but it also adds credibility to your story – and credibility is critical for journalists. 

7. Invest in a Quality Media Database

Using a media database can be a game-changer when it comes to creating pitches that journalists will pay attention to and result in earned media. A quality media database can help you identify the journalists and influencers who would be interested in covering your story, with additional intel on what topics they typically cover, what they’ve covered in the past, and their preferred methods of pitching – so you can craft more relevant pitches that are personalized to their interests. 

CisionOne Outreach, for example, makes finding relevant media contacts to reach out- and what to say to them – easy and intuitive. In addition to providing accurate and reliable contact information for hundreds of thousands of media professionals across industries and outlets, it provides important information needed to personalize your messaging – from recent content they’ve published and topics they’re interested in to contact preferences and social media activity. You can even reach out to them directly from the platform.

For more expert advice on crafting pitches that get results, check out our guide: Mastering the Pitch: Data-Backed Strategies for Smarter PR.

Find out how CisionOne Outreach can help you perfect your pitch. Explore the platform or make time to speak with one of our experts.  

About Mary Lorenz
About Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Director of Content and Creative at Cision. She oversees the editorial strategy at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.