Media Pitch Masterpiece
Drafting a media pitch can be one of the hardest writing assignments you’ll do. Why? Because reporters are a tough crowd to please, and they usually decide if what you wrote is worth their time in five seconds or less. You have limited time and space to convince them that out of all the things happening in the world, they need to cover your story. This is no easy task, as reporters can get dozens or even hundreds of pitches a day. Trust me, they are looking for any reason to delete your pitch.
Because of this, the email subject line can be the single most important part of your pitch. If the subject line isn’t enticing, it’s a quick delete (before they ever open your email to read the rest of your masterpiece).
If you get them to open the email, what they see next better be short, sweet and written in their writing style. Hint: Think headlines! Don’t build to your big idea. Tell them the mind-blowing story idea in a headline and then back it up with your evidence.
Before you dive head-first into sending out your pitch, take a look at our tips to guide you through the pitch drafting process:
- Know who you’re pitching to. Read their work and do your research to make sure this reporter is interested in your topic.
- Make sure your story is new, noteworthy and not overdone.
- Consider the audience. Why will they care? Why should they care?
- Brevity is key. Use 500 words max, but 250-300 words is ideal.
- Spelling and grammar are everything.
- Write a compelling email subject line, otherwise, they might not even open your pitch.
After you’ve gone through our checklist and edited your pitch in-depth, think to yourself: “Would I choose to read this in my free time?” If the answer is yes, you’re off to a great start. Make sure your first line is enticing, add your pitch to the body of an email (editors hate attachments) and write a captivating title and email subject. We can’t say it enough. You probably should be spending as much time on your subject line as the pitch itself. If you’ve done all that — voila — you’re all set to send your pitch!
Once you press send, you might get a few replies. After that, it’ll likely be crickets, so don’t wait by your computer, because if they don’t reply quickly, they likely won’t at all. To be honest, reporters rarely get right back to you. Think of the pitch as a brief introduction. If you want them to run the story, you have to follow up with a phone call. Timing is everything. Whatever you do, don’t call a reporter when they are on deadline. If you are trying to pitch a story to a reporter who leads the 5 p.m. news, don’t call them at 4:30. Consider them busy! If/when you get in touch with a reporter, make sure you are able to summarize your pitch in 20 seconds. Also, if you are good, you’ll have backup stories for the reporter to consider if they don’t like the first story. It’s nearly impossible to get a reporter on the phone these days, so when you do, make the most of that valuable time.