How to: Write a Pitch
A pitch is a brief document written to accompany press releases, media advisories or press kits. Much like how a cover letter accompanies a resume, the purpose of a pitch is to pique a journalist, blogger or other publisher’s interest in a story. Along with press release optimization, they encourage the likelihood of your story being published. Pitches don’t need to be complicated or intricate, but they should tease people into wanting to learn more about what you have to say.
What should you include in a pitch? Follow these guidelines:
1. Keep etiquette in mind. Use standard business formatting for messages sent through email, make sure your subject line is intriguing enough to entice the reader to open it and address them courteously in the salutation.
2. In the first sentence, don’t mess around with formalities or bury the lead, as they say in the news business. Hook the reader immediately with something that will make him or her believe you offer an interesting angle for a story.
3. In the body of the text, include relevant facts. Address the who, what, when, where, how and why that make this story worth a reader’s attention. Why should readers care? Having a good answer to this can make or break your chances of coverage.
4. Mention if the publication has covered similar subjects in the past and explain what new information or twist your story offers to readers. If your article relates to other news events, mention this. Convey to your contact it’s a hot story that should be pursued immediately.
5. Not all publications or journalists are the same. Inform each contact about how your story idea is relevant to them or their readers. Craft each letter individually for each recipient to increase the chances of your story being published.
6. Once you are happy with your pitch, check spelling and grammar. Ensure your sentences are clear, concise and that names are spelled properly. It is surprising how often people forget this step, but it is incredibly important even for non-promotional documents.
7. Follow up your pitch. Reporters are busy and sometimes even the most interesting stories can fall through the cracks. If you haven’t received a response, a follow-up can increase your chances of getting the attention you seek.
Pitches are excellent tools to include in your press kit. Coupled with press release optimization, pitches can help brands to gain attention from the outlets that target audiences are leveraging for information. Just remember to keep the letters short, to the point and show how your story can appeal to an audience. With some practice, soon you’ll be pitching like a PR pro!
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