Blog - Lessons from CommsCon: the Golden Rules of a PR Pitch

Lessons from CommsCon: the Golden Rules of a PR Pitch

Author: Alice Jones — Read time: 3 mins

It’s a fact: journalists are a busy bunch. But if your business needs exposure, you probably need their attention. Inundated with pitches, journalists can be unsurprisingly unresponsive. So before you hit them up, at least nail the basics - we don’t want those important pitches getting lost in an inbox abyss!

After hearing all about what journalists want straight from the horse’s mouth at CommsCon18, we’ve done a round-up of some PR-pitch fundamentals to get the ball rolling and help you secure that coverage:

Nail your subject line

Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day. Often, all that’s read are the email subject lines. If you want your story to get noticed, it’s imperative your subject’s perfected. It needs to be compelling and concisely summarise what your story is about.

Build a rapport

It seems that getting editorial coverage is no exception to the old adage “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Why? Because, like friendships, press contacts want reliability. If you become a trusted and reliable source, they’ll know to trust and rely on your stories and thus be more inclined to use them.

“But how might I build a relationship?”, you ask. Start by showing a genuine interest in journalists - and in advance of pitching - not just when you’ve an interest in them publishing your story. Appreciate that they’re busy and be respectful of their time. Show an interest in what they’re working on - read, comment, share etc. And leading on to the next point…

Try flattery (sometimes).

At least with Glamour Magazine’s Josh Newis-Smith, a little sweet-talk won’t do any harm!

Know who you’re talking to

Quite literally. The least personal thing you can do is get your recipient’s name wrong. It takes a few minutes to find out who you’re writing to, so find their name and drop it in your pitch. You want to show that you haven’t just sent a mass email without thought into the individual recipients.

Not only this, but know how to engage these different contacts. As you develop a relationship, learn what works for them. Learn how and when is best to reach them. Do they work part time? Do they prefer being called first, or emailed? Are they open to you contacting them through their social channels?

Know the publication

Do your homework and know what they’re likely to publish. Before you make contact, are you certain your story’s in line with that outlet? Know what topics and areas they cover, have a read of what they’ve written about before, and check their tone and stance.

With all of the above this in mind, think cleverly about your angle. You want to be tweaking your pitch to suit each publication. Be sure to really shout about the relevant parts and try communicate in a tone which complements theirs.

Attach great images

Remember: don’t hit send without giving them something visual. You want to be making your contacts’ lives easier. Attach images they might want to include, should they go on to publish (the key word being ‘images’ - be sure to give them options!). Being hi-res. and relevant is a bit of a no-brainer, but also try make the images interesting - think something a little more engaging than a basic headshot!