Writing good media pitches is not particle physics. It’s common sense, yet it’s something that people often screw up. If you’re about to do some media outreach, here are a few things to avoid in your pitch:
“I would love it if you would publish an article about my product.”
If you are writing to a journalist, the chances are you want to be published. So there’s no need to state the bleeding obvious. Not only is it not the journalist’s job to make your day, it’s a waste of precious words.
Spell their name wrong.
Spelling a journalist’s name wrong is bad form. Even worse is copying and pasting a previous pitch with a completely different name. Yes, it’s happened to me. Take the extra few seconds to check before you hit send and avoid being blacklisted.
We’re inundated with article after article on social media and our way of filtering is almost always by the headline. It’s what catches our attention and makes us want to learn more. Tailor your headline to your target publication. An editor should be able to imagine your headline in their publication. “15 things you didn’t know about quantitative easing”, for example, is unlikely to make it to The Economist’s editorial meeting.
Long, rambling pitch.
Your pitch should be straight to the point. Don’t include unnecessary details or blather on about the product or service.
Do not, I repeat, do not ever use caps lock. Journalists will think you’re yelling at them or completely exaggerating. And there’s also no need for excessive exclamation points. Or any, for that matter.
Not following up after an information request.
Journalists are often on tight deadlines and need information quickly. You might get a response to a pitch immediately so you need to have all of your information prepared and ready to send. Keep an eye on your email for any follow-up requests.
Pitching about a topic the journalist never writes about.
Most journalists have a select topic or industry they typically cover. Don’t send your pitch about new innovative software to a person who writes about female travel. Do your research and find journalists who write about your industry.
“I think it would be beneficial for your readers.”
Don’t tell them how to do their job. We all know the reason why you’re getting in touch.
Not having data to back up your claims.
Why are you credible to tell this story? What sources do you have to back up your claims? You need to show the journalist why your story is important and why you should be the one sharing it. Send evidence to back up your claims.
Including multiple attachments.
Journalist email accounts are slammed with hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of emails per day. If you send six attachments, you’re likely going to clog up their email even more. Send a maximum of two images. If you are sending a press release, put it in the text of the email.
Sending a pitch and immediately calling to confirm they received it
I know you are excited and curious, but leave it be. If you don’t hear back within 3-5 days, follow up with the journalist. They are busy people who receive many requests, they don’t have time to let you know they’ve received your email.
Ramming your pitch full of buzzwords.
They won’t be impressed, only irritated. Believe me, they’ve heard every superlative before.