How to pitch your company to journalists

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When thinking about pitching a story to a journalist there is one thing that you need to keep in mind: their inbox is CRAZY - you think achieving inbox 0 is bad for you? You ain't seen nothing! Don't be the guy that keeps chasing an email.

They are under a lot of pressure AND they are human. As such, they can get upset, annoyed, irritated and overwhelmed. Don't forget that. Think about every sales call you ever had or random email that got your name wrong. Play nice and make them smile!

Always consider if your news is relevant. If it's not and you've done your research - DO NOT PRESS SEND. Now let’s go to the basics of pitching!

Step 1. Do you know this journalist? Yes or no?
If yes, skip to Step 3.

If no, hold up, go to Step 2.

Step 2. Email, email, email!
If you're going to pitch a story, email it first.

Step 3. On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know the journalist?
Anything below a 7 (which we rate as - hung out with beers once) and you can go back to Step 2. Anything above an 8 (we tweet chat a lot) and you can give them a call. If they don't answer got back to step 2.

Email is the preferred way for many journalists to receive pitches. So when you can, stick to email. Our preference is email, Twitter and then text or call. Cold calling is extremely hard, even for the best PR pro's - email means you can send everything they could possibly need for a story, in one go.

Now, how do you structure that email?

  • Snappy subject line - think about the key detail you have, and how you can stand out from the rest of their inbox.
  • Keep the formalities short. Be polite, but don't start sending lots of lines asking them how they are etc. They will skip ahead to your pitch.
  • Bullet points are your friend. Short snappy details that summarise the story, your offer and key facts, make for a winning combination.
  • Establish an embargo or exclusive offer upfront.
  • Make it relatable - if you've done your research, reference why you think they'll find this piece interesting.
  • Make your contact details and any interview offers obvious. 
  • Copy in the press release after your upfront pitch ends.
  • Share a link to an open press kit - pop all your images, logos, bios etc. in here.

What to avoid

  • Overly long emails. The shorter and more concise the better. You don't want them to get bored and give up after the first paragraph. 
  • Attachments. They are evil.
  • Emailing the day before the news goes out. Figure out the best time to contact your key media and try and do it with working days to spare.

What NOT to do

  • Get their name wrong. Seriously!
  • Offering more than one exclusive or accidentally sending them the wrong embargo time! 
  • Do not immediately follow up an email with a phone call. And give them some time to read it! Do not chase the email unless you absolutely have to - give it a day at least.
  • Mention the wrong publication to the wrong journalist - think details! 
  • Be rude. 
  • Do not take offence if they say "not for me", most journalists will happily say why. If they don't, ask them and learn. 
  • DO NOT use Facebook or LinkedIn as channels to pitch them. Twitter is ok - a lot of press use open DMs. 
  • Use attachments - yes, this makes the ‘avoid’ and ‘do not’ lists. 
  • Offer no images. Help make their life easy!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips about communications and marketing here!