Your media pitches can go straight over the plate. With a little forethought, and a few tips, you can throw fewer balls and more media relations strikes.
Brevity is the soul of wit. Shakespeare could have been giving media relations tips when he penned this gem several hundred years ago. If you can’t get to the point in your subject line in 10 words or less, you need to work on your message. Keep the subject line short and to the point, and include the time frame if it is important to the pitch. For instance: “Entrepreneurs Storming NC General Assembly Tuesday”
Surprise! If you have a startling or interesting fact, use it as a hook. I am developing a story idea about local home prices. My initial thought for a subject line is: “Average Lake Norman Home Listing Price Spikes To $413,000.” Recently I used these subject lines to get coverage: “Interest Rates Hit Six Month Low” and “No Credit Score, No Problem”.
Humor Me. Humor is not for everyone. It is best to use it only if you know the reporter has a sense of humor or appreciates quirky items. Maria Stainer, assistant managing editor of the Washington Times, was quoted recently about an email pitch that got her attention and coverage. “Teach Your Dog To Meditate” was the line that hooked her on a story about a new book on animal behavior.
Don’t Get Too Attached. Don’t ever attach word documents or photos files to an email pitch. Did I mention that you should not send attachments? To get past email filters and to avoid hacking off your media contacts, wait until they ask for additional information before sending photos and documents. And, if you make them mad, your next pitch may be deleted before it is ever read.
Be Cool. You’re fired up to fire off that media pitch you have just written. Don’t. Let it cool off a bit first. Ask for input from others before you send the pitch to the media, particularly if you are trying to use humor or be quirky. You don’t want your pitch to fall flat.
Be Relevant. Friend David Mildenberg, a reporter at the Charlotte Business Journal, has the best tip of all. “I think email pitches can be effective for all the obvious reasons: If they contain news relevant to the publication and its readers, if the pitches are concise and if the pitches are understandable,” he says.