Pitching to a journalist is one of the key stages in the process of building links via digital PR.
But anyone who has pitched a campaign to a journalist before knows that writing a pitch or outreach email can be tough.
Journalists receive hundreds of pitch emails each day, but with most journalists churning out 10+ articles a day, there are lots of opportunities to land coverage and links for your clients.
So how do you cut through the noise and land coverage for your campaigns?
Here are my top tips on how to write a pitch email that (hopefully) lands coverage…
Be direct in your pitch emails, there’s no need for excessive build-up or ‘fluff’.
The journalists are the ones who are writing the article, not you.
Try and sum up your research in one or two sentences, so that you’re presenting the journalist with a clear and interesting summary of the content you’re pitching.
Sometimes journalists or editors might not read past the first one or two lines of an email, so it’s important to catch their attention and explain the story as clearly and succinctly as you can.
Don’t shy away from the reason why you’re emailing in the first place.
Ask the journalist whether they’d be interested in writing about your content, and highlight which link you’d like them to credit with if they are.
If you have previously spoken to the journalist before, then acknowledge it in an email, let them know if you enjoyed one of their recent articles, or found one of their tweets funny.
Journalists are human too, and adding in little extra personal touches shows whoever you’re pitching to that you’re not taking a blanket, or ‘spray and pray’ approach to your pitches, and that you really believe that they will be interested in the content you’re sending them.
Not only may this mean they’re more likely to read and consider your pitch, but taking the time to personalise also helps start authentic conversations, which goes a long way in building relationships.
Just make sure any personal touches are genuine, because whoever you’re pitching will be able to see right through the fakeness, and nobody likes a suck-up.
Always make sure you check over the pitch email before sending, and send yourself a test email if possible.
Use this mini checklist of things to double check before hitting the ‘send’ button:
Get the journalists name right
Sounds simple but always make sure you’ve written the correct name and that it’s spelled correctly.
If one of the first things a journalist sees is an incorrectly-spelled (or worse) completely different name, then they’re unlikely to continue reading.
If the worst should happen and you make a typo, or there’s a mix-up (I’ve been there), just email to apologise for the mistake.
We’re all human, and most people won’t mind the error, but will appreciate you taking the time to email and apologise!
Make sure that any links you’ve included are correct
Ensure that links included in your pitch are formatted correctly and directly take the journalist to the campaign’s landing page.
Always check your asset is still working, as sending a journalist a broken page is not going to make you nor your client look good.
Check your email’s formatting and layout
Finally, look over the formatting of the email and make sure everything is laid out in a clear and easy-to-read way.
Ensure that the same font and text size is consistent throughout, and that your email looks the same on desktop as it does on mobile – not every journalist will be checking emails from their computer.
Before writing your headline, take a look at how the headlines are written at the publication or by the journalist you’re pitching to, and then try and replicate this in the subject line of your email.
Write the subject line with the intention that the journalist will be using it as the headline for a feature.
As with the pitch, make sure the subject line is snappy, short and concise, and sums up the main story of the content in one line.
If you’re struggling to get a subject line you’re happy with, write 10-15 headlines out to weed out the weaker ones, and get your colleagues to vote on which ones they like best.
From this, you’ll probably find one or two that are the most eye-catching, and sum up the content in the most engaging way.
Where possible, try to personalise the subject line – for example, if you’re pitching research to a regional publication in which their town or city ranks in the top ten, then highlight this in the subject line, so they don’t have to go looking for where their city ranks.
Well, maybe not everything they could ever want (it’s quite hard to send love, fortune and fame in an email)…
But, your ultimate aim as a digital PR is to only receive an email back from a journalist to say that they have covered the story.
Send everything a journalist will need to write a feature in one email.
This could include:
Once you’ve included all of this, you could even pop a line in at the bottom of your pitch email to reassure the journalist that you’re on hand to help them in any way they might need, in order to support a feature – that’s what you’re there for, after all!
The key to getting your outreach emails pitch-perfect is to provide journalists with everything they need to do their job – if you try your best to do this, then you can’t go too wrong.
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