Marketing Bootcamp

Pitch Perfect: 4 Steps to Capture the Media's Attention

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Scary fact: The vast majority of pitches received by editors and producers end up in the virtual trash can -- tough odds if you’re trying to DIY your own PR.

But there is a way to get your pitch in the small pile that actually gets read -- and ends up as stories. It just takes a few insider secrets.

Related: 7 Must-Do Tips for Startups to Generate Good PR

1. Personalize and compliment.

The easiest way for your pitch to get deleted is if it looks like a mass mailing (editors know about tools like Cision). Instead, research exactly which editor or writer would be a good fit for your story idea, product or expertise, and then personalize your pitch to them. The easiest way? Give a (genuine) compliment about their work -- after all, you should have looked at lots of it before reaching out!

2. Sleuth out the right section.

Magazines, websites and TV shows usually follow set formats and will feature the similar story concepts in the same place each issue. If you want to up your chances of getting your pitch read (and accepted), your job is to find and decode those formulas and then develop your idea for that specific column, feature or segment.

Read or watch at least a few months of content (you can skim!), so you get the best idea of which sections are recurring. And some of the best sections might be yearly or monthly (like Women’s Health’s “Best Food for Women Awards” or Entrepreneur’s yearly trends forecast), so you’ll want to look for those too.

Related: How to Avoid Journalists' 5 Worst Pitching Peeves

3. Come up with a specific, “click-worthy” headline.

Next, you’ll want to get the editor excited about your idea and immediately envision how it would play out in a finished story on page. Instead of pitching a dull topic, try to capture the tone of the publication’s current headlines and come up with a few of your own.

For example, for this article, we skipped the mundane, "Expert steps for writing a pitch” and instead went with “Pitch Perfect: 4 steps to capture the media’s attention.” We could have also done, “Why editors keep deleting your pitch” or “The secret to a better PR pitch in just 60 seconds.” 

4.  Keep it short and easy.

You’ve now crafted a great pitch and these final details will keep you golden. First, go back and cut out any extra words or a sentence that says the same thing twice.

Then take a few moments to make the editor’s life easy: Put an in-text link to your site or other mentions (so they can skip the Googling step), include your phone number and email address at the end so it’s readily accessible (you never know if your email will get printed or forwarded), and link directly to a Dropbox of photos, instead of offering to send if desired (why add a step?). Finally, re-read your pitch one more time and make sure you’ve spelled their name correctly and mention the right outlet. (You would think this wouldn’t happen, but many editors estimate they get at least one “wrong name” pitch every few days.) And send off your perfect pitch!

Related: 7 Must-Do Tips for Startups to Generate Good PR