Written by: Blaire Ritter Photo by: Damian Zaleski
The landscape of PR pitching has evolved rapidly with the increased reliance on digital news platforms and the rise in popularity of social media. Traditional forms of pitching are no longer effective, and competition is fierce as PR pros struggle to set pitches apart and engage writers long enough to open a pitch, let alone cover it. Here are some tips that we use at one7 communications to help engage writers and navigate pitching in the digital age.
Tip #1: Time is of the essence.
Digital media causes news to become irrelevant just as quickly as it became relevant. As a PR professional, it’s important to be informed on emerging trends and issues. To make a pitch the most effective, ask, “How does my information fit into this emerging trend?” Tailor pitches to directly fit emerging trends and the specific writers that cover these trends. Also, make sure to reach out in a timely manner so the pitch doesn’t become old news.
Tip #2: Network, network, network.
Most writers are more responsive to pitches that are sent from people they know. These days sending someone a cold pitch comes off as pushy and impersonal. A great way to overcome this is to develop a professional social media relationship with writers and influencers of interest. After an initial introduction at an event or through email, don’t be afraid to friend a journalist on Facebook, retweet a writer’s story or comment, or share a funny meme relating to a trending topic or beat (when appropriate). Social media is a great tool to become familiar with writer beats and interests while developing professional relationships, making the writer more likely to respond to pitches. And, for goodness sake, make sure to spell the editor’s or writer’s name correctly in all outreach!
Tip #3: What’s in a subject line?
Keep the subject line short and sweet. Writers receive hundreds of pitches a day and try to avoid emails that sound too much like a sales pitch. Include just enough info to keep a writer guessing and want to open the message. An example subject line could be “Celebrity parties at top Las Vegas nightclub.” The writer then has to open the email to see specifics on the celebrity and venue. Another tip is to think of the subject line as a potential headline for an article on the info in the pitch. Make the subject direct and clear without overly trying to sell the pitch.
Tip #4: To click or not to click.
Social media plays a huge role in how news is covered, information is spread and memories are shared. When pitching out for coverage, it is vital to keep this in mind. How will this info translate to social media coverage? How can this info be tailored for use on multiple social platforms? For this reason, keep pitches brief. While some pitches inevitably require a bit more length, always include some social media specific components when pitching. This could include hyperlinking text, sharing a specific social media photo with appropriate caption, encouraging writers to follow your company’s social media pages, or “click to tweet” copy that journalists, bloggers and influencers can copy and paste to their social channels immediately. These tips will make the pitch effective and increase your company’s social media presence.
Tip #5: A picture’s worth a thousand words.
The digital world also marks a shift towards a more graphic, visual pitch. It’s no longer enough to paint pictures with words. It’s vital to include catching, bright, effective images that will single-handedly grab the reader’s attention and enhance the pitch copy. As touched on above, these images must also be for social media, in addition to being appropriate for traditional print and video forms of media. Words come secondary. Images now sell the story.