How to Write an Engaging Email Pitch Journalists Will Actually Read (and Maybe Even Answer)
If you’ve been reading this blog consistently, you already know the importance of PR in your influencer career, and you’ve learned several things you can do to avoid annoying journalists with your news pitches. You even know how to write compelling subject lines they can’t help but click.
But what about the body of the email pitch itself? If your subject line is the equivalent of store window displays, your email pitch is the way the merchandise inside the store is organized and laid out. Essentially, your email pitch is very important in that it is the final step in convincing a journalist or editor to “buy” your story.
So how are you supposed to write an enticing email pitch so journalists actually read through the entire thing without sending it to the trash bin? Here are four tips you should follow:
Do Your Homework
When you build up your list of target publications and journalists, your next step isn’t to email them all right away. Instead, you must start doing research into every one. Why? So that when you do pitch journalists, you can prove you’ve done your homework into their story preferences and beats, as well as why your particular pitch is relevant to them or their audience right now.
How do you do this? The process is simple, if not time-consuming. Read as many previous stories from your target editors or reporters as possible; then think about ways your story fits in with their beat, or how it relates to a current event or other news their readers might be interested in. As a busy influencer, you might not have time to do all this yourself, so it’s important you consider hiring someone to do it for you if you want to make your pitch stand apart.
Then, use the first sentence or short paragraph of your email pitch to prove to the journalist you’ve done your due diligence. The easiest way is to write something like, “I noticed you recently covered a story about X” or “I really enjoyed your recent story about X.” Then continue with, “I have a similar story about Y which you might be interested in covering.”
Make It Personal
To truly personalize your pitch email, you have to go beyond just using the correct name; you must do your best to have a positive interaction with each journalist you pitch and directly mention that connection in your lead. In fact, in a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 64% of writers think establishing a personal connection is somewhat important, with 31% saying these connections are “important” or even “very important.”
While it’s good to show you understand the journalist’s beat and read their work on a regular basis, it’s also impactful when you can bring up a time you interacted in person, via email, or on social media. Doing both will earn you an even greater chance of landing coverage.
For example, when I was trying to help a previous client of mine land coverage on TechCrunch, I tweeted back and forth with a journalist there about Batman V Superman. Then, when I wrote my email pitch to him, I led with, “I really enjoyed our conversation on Twitter about Batman V Superman — and you’re right… it was pretty disappointing! Anyway, I know you tend to cover stories about X, so I think this news from my client is right up your alley.” Guess what? The journalist responded, and my client got the coverage they wanted.
Keep It Short
If there are only two rules you should follow when conducting PR outreach, it’s to make everything personal and applicable to the journalists you’re aiming for, and to keep all your communication as short and to-the-point as possible. No journalist wants to read paragraph after paragraph of what’s supposed to be an introductory email pitch; in fact, most editors and reporters won’t get past your lead before sending the entire email straight to the trash.
The easiest way to keep your email pitch as short as possible is to be concise. If you can get the point of your news across in just 1-2 sentences or a few carefully-selected words (even by rewording the first bit of your press release), you’re on the right track. In fact, a survey of over 500 journalists by BuzzStream and Fractl revealed some editors and reporters expect you to explain the key takeaway in just 15-20 words.
In addition to short statements, it’s a good idea to include bullet points of your supporting facts or information. Again, long paragraphs are a no-no, but summarized points are easy for busy journalists to scan and ultimately decide if they are interested in your story. Make sure the ending of your pitch is quick, as well: “Are you interested in covering this story? Would appreciate if you could let me know!”
Help Journalists Out
Jumping off of that “busy journalists” point, the final way you can write an effective email pitch which leaves journalists interested in your story instead of being annoyed by you is doing whatever you can to help them out. To make their jobs easier and show them you’re on top of your game, you need to go the extra mile for them.
A few simple ways you can do this are by including your full press release at the bottom of the email (never attached!), providing images journalists can use or a link to a press kit, and by offering at the end of your email to coordinate interviews with anyone other than yourself.
You can go even farther, as a TechCrunch reporter noted in BuzzStream and Fractl’s survey: “Take the time to pull relevant screenshots, create user accounts for each person if necessary, customize video demos and screencasts, and anything else someone may ultimately need to write a story instead of having to spend precious time doing your work for you.”
Writing an email pitch can be tricky, and it might even seem daunting. But if you follow these four tips as you write your email pitch, you’ll end up with a piece of communication that has the potential to not only get read in its entirety by journalists, but also convince them to publish your story.
Which of these email pitch tips will you implement in your next PR push?