During my first year at SHIFT, I have learned several pitch writing techniques and seen some success, but I’ve also had days when I’ve received radio silence from reporters. It can be a challenge to generate an exciting pitch when there’s a lack of news or SME availability, but the key to grabbing a reporter’s attention isn’t always what you have to offer, it’s how you present it.
I recently had the opportunity to attend The Jack Jackson Art of Writing Workshop presented by Ken O’Quinn, a former Associated Press writer and corporate writing coach. One of the most valuable things I learned during the seminar was how to write a pitch that gets attention. As PR professionals, we rarely get the chance to see from the reporter perspective, and this workshop allowed me to step into Ken’s shoes, understand what reporters look for and how they want to be approached.
If you’re struggling to obtain positive feedback from reporters, try incorporating these tips into your writing process:
Keep it short and sweet.
Get right to the point and lead with the most important piece information. Reporters receive hundreds of emails each day. You should be familiar with their work, but don’t waste their time by praising a recent article—they already think it’s great.
Offer your SME right away.
Elaborate on what they can speak to and relevant news trends afterwards. Reporters already know basic information about the beat they cover, so if they have to read through a paragraph of detail they already know before finding out what you’re offering, they’ll likely skip the email altogether.
Avoid buzz words.
They are boring and vague, which ultimately drains the life out of your pitch. Chances are, words like cutting-edge, mission-critical and upskill will confuse the reader. You’ll have better luck if the reporter can grasp what you’re saying immediately. Be clear and precise. Don’t drown your value in unnecessary fluff.
Be creative and visual.
Help the reporter see what your client can add to their piece. Use facts, examples and comparisons for clarity. This will allow them to easily recognize what you’re bringing to the table and leave them wanting more.
You’ll write thousands of pitches throughout your career, so why not make it easier on yourself? By following these tips, you’ll be able to craft an effective and compelling pitch that delivers fast results. Over the past few weeks since wrapping up the course, I’ve secured three immediate media opportunities from a single pitch, two of which have already lead to coverage.