I've written about what not to include in a media pitch if your goal is to actually get someone to open it and read it. Bet you know what’s next. Yep. Here are four elements that absolutely must be in your pitch:
A useful subject line
I recently saw a tweet from Rafe Needleman of CNET which went something like this: “PR Tip: You have a subject line... USE IT!” Too often, people use worthless subject lines in their pitches. Think “Please read!” or “URGENT!” (These are real, I kid you not.) Your subject line is your make or break. If it’s interesting and relevant, the email gets opened. If it’s vague, the email gets deleted without a second thought. Make sure your subject line is specific, concise and relevant to the recipient. Even better if you can make it interesting. Think objectively: Would you open this email?
It may seem obvious, but ask any media type how many pointless pitches fill their inbox. Naturally, you’re thinking, “My pitch has a point. It’s my product and it’s awesome.” That’s only half the battle though. Your pitch needs to have a point that resonates with what your recipient actually cares about. Let go of the “you should cover my company!” idea. Instead, latch your company or product to something the reporter’s audience cares about, right now. Go back and read a few recent articles and reader comments to get a sense. Poke around their Twitter account too.
The rule is simple: The longer it takes for you to effectively communicate your pitch, the higher the likelihood your email will get deleted. Think, short sentences, small paragraphs. Even better? Condense your email into just a few lines. This is easier said than done, but, for an intro email, sometimes that can be an effective teaser. Example: "Hi Kelli - Saw you’re covering summer travel savings. Thought you might dig this: [Product name]. Basically helps [Kelli’s audience] with [something Kelli’s audience cares about!]. Give a shout if interesting." Bottom line: Keep it short and simple.
Never send unsolicited attachments. Instead, give your recipient the ability to learn more with... wait for it... links! Links to stuff that’s actually useful! Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. If you’re interested, what more would you want to know? Be clear about what each link leads to (i.e., For some screenshots, go here: LINK. For a video demo, go here: LINK.). And to keep the email clean, use shortened links or just hyperlink action words, such as “go here.”
So while every pitch (and recipient) is different, these basics should always be included.
What's your best tip for pitching the media? Leave a comment and let us know.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Dave Clarke is the founder and lead strategist at AuthenticMatters, a digital strategy firm that helps companies - from web startups to brick & mortars - acquire the right customers to the right products for the right reasons. Email him at email@example.com to learn more or grab a beer if you're ever in Philly or New York.