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What to Include in Your Email Pitch

There’s no doubt that social media is shaking up the way journalists approach their work. According to Cision’s 2015 Social Journalism Study, 67 percent of journalists spend up to two hours on their social media accounts each day, up from 38 percent just three years ago.

But as journalists begin to feel comfortable using these tools for help with sourcing stories, the social media giants unveil one new feature after another, complicating matters more – especially for PR professionals wanting to know the best way to pitch their clients.

While there’s been a slight increase in the amount of journalists accepting pitches via social media, that’s not the way to go, at least not for the time being. Stick to what 83 percent of reporters prefer: a simple email.

Want to ensure your email doesn’t get tossed in the trash bin? Start by following these tips:

1. Start With the Subject LineWriting-Pitch

For reporters, a captivating headline is key to capturing the public’s attention. For PR professionals, a clear, concise subject line is key to getting reporters to open and read your pitch.

If you use Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to pitch reporters, you may have noticed that the subject line of your pitch auto-populates. Take the time to edit your subject line, especially if a reporter asks for a specific subject line within their source request.  

Subject lines are often the hardest part of the pitching formula. Don’t rush past this step. Get in the right frame of mind by thinking about the type of wording that gets you to open an email or click on a news story.

Want more pitching advice? Get insight from our “HARO Best Practices” tip sheet today!

2. Fill in All the Blanks

Reporters are looking for specific information or quotes to complete their upcoming stories. Be sure to give them what they want in your pitch.

If your client is unable to answer all of the reporter’s questions, don’t even think about pitching– you’ll waste your time, your client’s time and the reporter’s time.

Pitches should be short. Period. Avoid sending press releases, snippets of books or other long-form content. If a reporter wants images to accompany their story, send links to Dropbox or Google Drive files. Attachments are often blocked or stripped from email pitches.

Above all things, stick to a professional tone. While you may be tempted to share inappropriate jokes, personal accomplishments or cat videos, save that for your friends and family. Off-topic, spam-like pitches are the easiest way to get ignored by a reporter.

3. Plug in Your Contact Information

If you’ve done your research on the reporter you’re pitching and already established a friendly relationship on social media, chances are he or she will recognize your name. But that doesn’t guarantee placement in their story.

Be sure to include all of your contact information (telephone number, email address and all social media handles) at the end of your pitch. If you’re pitching for a client, CC them on the email too.

Finally, don’t forget to specify you or your client’s availability for follow-up questions. Oftentimes reporters hunt down a new source last minute because their original, perfect source forgot to include this vital information.

If you’re going to pitch a client, always make sure they are able to commit to your pitching efforts.

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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

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