At one of her ‘Lessons from a Journalist’ sessions, freelance journalist Susie Bearne shocked attendees when she explained that an Editor at The Guardian once admitted to having 2,700+ unread emails in their inbox! With journalists receiving more emails per day than they have time to read, how do can you ensure that your pitch will stand out? Here are some of the best tips for grabbing the attention of a journalist and increasing the chances of getting some press coverage!
Snappy Subject Line
Before you can wow a journalist with your pitch, you need to get them to actually open your email. When the email subject line and sender’s name are all that are on display, this can be a challenge.
Make sure your pitch is relevant to the journalist you are pitching to. There is no use pitching information about properties in Surrey to a journalist that is only interested in Scottish homes, and you risk irritating them and getting your email address blacklisted. Equally, it is important to check that the journalist has not recently written an article that is too similar to the one you are pitching as they are unlikely to cover the same topic twice. Check online for recent articles from your target journalist to check whether your pitch is likely to be suitable.
Once you have found the right journalist, grab their attention with a catchy subject line. This is similar to a snappy headline in a newspaper so reflect the style of the headlines written by your chosen journalist in the subject line. Furthermore, if you are pitching for a regular feature, reference this in the subject line.
Although brilliant and original ideas are more important than the quality of the pitch, it is still important to make sure your pitch ticks all the right boxes. Many journalists work as freelancers and have to pitch their article ideas into an editor. Making your pitch as clear as possible will make it easier for journalists to get the go-ahead from an editor.
Your pitch should be short and to the point, but also include all the relevant details. To get you started, make sure to include the five Ws (who, what, where, when and why) in your email. When pitching for a regular feature, make sure that you incorporate all the details that are normally included in articles, such as the location or price. Hyperlinks to the product website and images are also great to include to give the journalist extra information.
Some pitches will always get missed, but having an established relationship with a journalist can make a big difference. As with any relationship, these can take a while to build, but there are definitely a few things that you can do to get things off to the right start. Respond to journalist requests when you have a relevant insight or product that could help them finish something that they are working on. Don’t overpromise on what you can deliver or when you will be able to deliver something by, and make sure that you respond to follow-up emails quickly and effectively.
Once you have successfully worked on a feature together, or something that you have pitched in has been featured, make sure to send a quick thank you message to the journalist or editor. This takes very little time, but will help make your name more memorable when you send in future content. If you have worked on a few pieces together, and distance isn’t too much of an obstacle, you could also consider meeting in person for a coffee or inviting the journalist to a larger event.
The Power of Social Media
Social media can be a great tool for pitching when used correctly. Many journalists have public Twitter or Instagram accounts dedicated to their work. By following these, you can keep up to date on topics that are of interest to each journalist and see what they are looking for, making it easier to pitch stories.
Your own social media accounts, or those of a client, can also help you to get noticed by journalists. If a journalist sees something that is of interest to them whilst scrolling through their own feed, they may consider contacting you to collect information for a future article. Keeping your social accounts up-to-date and full of fresh content and professional photographs can help.