You’ve got some cool company news and want to get PR coverage for it. You even have a press release ready to go. All you have to do is cut-and-paste the release into an email, send it off to a bunch of reporters, and they’ll be knocking on your door, right?
If that’s your PR strategy, I bet that 99 percent of those reporters will never get past the first few sentences (if they even open your email in the first place). Journalists get hundreds of unsolicited emails and press releases every day, and they are constantly on deadline; reading an eight-paragraph cut-and-paste job is definitely not a priority.
A more effective approach is to “tease” journalists with a brief, personalized email pitch. The good news for all you email marketers out there: The rules of a great email marketing campaign also apply to a successful PR pitch. Much like your email subscribers, you want to break through the clutter with content that’s relevant and to the point. And you want to provide them with a compelling “offer” (your news) and get them to “convert” (reply back with their interest to learn more).
Here are a five ways to make sure your email is pitch-perfect:
Subject Line = News Headline
In email marketing, you want to entice your readers with an irresistible subject line that makes them want to open your email, and the same goes for your PR pitch. What’s irresistible to journalists? A great news headline. Ask yourself: If the reporter wrote a story about your news, what would the headline be? Then use that as your subject line. Instead of “XYZ Maternity Co. Releases New Report” (snore!), try “XYZ Maternity Co. Finds 85% of Moms-to-be Post Ultrasounds on Facebook.”
You know how we recommend personalizing your email marketing with details like the recipient’s name, company and references to past behavior? Your PR pitch needs to be personal, too. At the very least, address the journalist by name and include the name of the media outlet. If you can, briefly mention why you’re sending this email to him/her specifically – maybe the reporter has covered your company before or a topic similar to what you’re pitching.
Keep It to 2 or 3 Paragraphs
Reporters hate reading fluff, so you need to state your most newsworthy points (aka your offer) upfront and quickly. Sounds familiar to email marketing, doesn’t it? I keep most of my pitches to two or three short paragraphs, and try to use bullets whenever possible because it’s easier for the reader to scan through. Again, a pitch isn’t meant to tell the whole story; it’s supposed to pique their interest so that they inquire for more details.
Answer the Question: “Why Should I Care?”
Your news may be really exciting for your company, but to a reporter, it’s one of hundreds of “exciting” announcements they receive daily. What makes your pitch more compelling than all the others? Pinning an angle to your pitch, like an interesting statistic, a connection to a trending story, or a local slant, will increase your chances of catching a journalist’s interest. Keep in mind that your angle may need to change depending on the media outlet you’re pitching – the interests and needs of a local TV news station may be completely different from an industry blogger.
Link to Press Release
So is the press release dead? Not necessarily. It’s still a preferred way for journalists to get more formal details. (Not to mention, it’s great content for your website and good for SEO.) Post it on your site and include a link to it at the end of your email pitch. If you have other creative assets that can help further tell your story, like a video, include a link to that too, or link to it from the press release. Don’t use URL shorteners; reporters may not want to click on them if they don’t know you.
One last tip: Keep your PR media lists updated and segment them so that your pitches are as relevant as possible. Just like your email lists, your chances of success are much greater if your PR efforts and pitches are targeted to their specific interests. Happy pitching!
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