Modern PR: 7 Tips for Pitching Your Story
By Lisa Merriam
Member, Board of Directors
Modern PR blends old-fashioned media outreach, search engine optimization, use of social media and influencer marketing. Getting all the pieces to work together creates a sum-greater-than-its-parts dynamic that can boost your marketing. With so much attention to SEO and other digital aspects of PR, media outreach gets short shrift. Here are some tips for getting it right:
- Sign up for reporter query services like Cision’s Help a Reporter Out or Profnet from PR NewsWire . Check the listings regularly (I do twice daily) for reporter queries that fit your business. Don’t waste time responding to anything that isn’t a perfect fit—you’ll annoy the reporter and achieve nothing.
- Reply fast. Deadlines can be just hours away. And the first responses get the most attention. If you can’t respond within an hour or two, your chances of getting used are much lower
- Be professional. Typos, grammatical errors, and rambling pitches get tossed aside.
- Be topical. You are responding to the reporters information needs, not pitching your own story. Don’t cut and paste your press release or sell your product or own credentials. Make it about them.
- Brevity is the soul of getting picked up. Be witty, pithy, provocative—but do it in just a few sentences. 200 words is the upward limit. Make your pitch easy to read with headings and bullet points. If you write like a soundbite machine, the reporter may quote you from your pitch directly—fast, easy, super-effective.
- Include complete contact information. You want to make it easy for the reporter to get in touch with you.
- Save the pitch. If the reporter doesn’t pick up your pitch, you can always turn it into your own blog post or article. Do wait a good interval to make sure that your pitch isn’t going to be used. Most reporters are on tight deadlines, but I have had reporters use my pitch weeks after I made it and thought it was dead.