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How to successfully pitch PR stories to journalists

We’re consistently reminded that journalists and publishers are busy people, with overflowing inboxes that are brimming with people wanting to get their story heard. So how can you make sure that yours is a pitch that stands out amongst the rest?

The trick to a successful pitch is to deliver exactly what the journalist is looking for, minimising the effort that is needed on their end. Throughout everything, it’s important to keep your story at the heart of everything you do. Here are our top tips for making an impact.

Keep pitches short, sharp and to the point

While it’s tempting to get down as many ideas as possible into a single press release, it’s unlikely that journalists are going to be willing to sift through pages of content in order to find a story that appeals to them. Cut to the chase and avoid writing long-winded introductions that risk losing the reader’s attention before the purpose of your pitch has even been established.

The subject line is key here, and should give the reader a clear idea of the story that you’re pitching. Include only the fundamental details and be sure to add in a quote from somebody in the know if possible, a method that is certain to add validity to your story. Finish with a call to action or a question in order to maximise the number of responses received.

Pitch your story, not your brand

Remember that a journalist makes their money by selling stories, not advertising brands. While it can be tempting to sing the praises of your business as part of a pitch, it’s important to bear in mind that a journalist isn’t the right audience. There’s a time and a place for self-promotion and, if your story doesn’t pack enough of a punch to warrant it, your release is unlikely to be taken seriously.

Always lead with your story, using branded data and comments to support the headline. While it’s fine for brand promotion to be your ultimate goal, this shouldn’t come at the cost of producing an engaging and informative press release. Convey your story well, and it should be strong enough to carry the release by itself.

Know your audience

Understanding the needs of your audience is the first step towards pitching a story that appeals directly to them. Rather than getting in touch with a large editorial team or trying to contact the general news desk, reach out directly to those journalists who are relevant to the topic in hand. This is usually fairly easy to do, and studying by-lines from within your chosen publication is a great place to start.

Once you know who you’ll be contacting, swat up and do a little research on them. This doesn’t have to involve hours of seedy detective work. Instead, take the time to browse through a few of their most recent articles, or search via social media to see what they’ve been talking about lately. It’s crucial to ensure that your story is relevant, both to the journalist in question and to the wider context of news at the time. Get to know their interests and break down the pitch to contain only the information that matters to them.

Build lasting relationships

Building deeper relationships with journalists is vital if you’re going to be distributing multiple releases over a longer period of time. Being on a first-name basis with a columnist is going to ensure that future emails stand out amongst the pack, while establishing relationships with a catalogue of industry-relevant journalists is a great tick to saving you more time in the long run.

The key to building relationships is to keep communication professional but personable. Greet journalists by name, ask how they are or comment on how much you enjoyed a previous article. These personal touches show that you’ve taken the time to consider exactly who you want to contact and ensure that your message will stand out amongst a barrage of automated emails.

Contact us today if you’d like more information on how we can help you with digital PR.