Most PR pros know that reporters get hundreds, maybe thousands of emails a day, many of which are irrelevant newsletters, press releases and pitches that are the product of old or misinformed lists. Unfortunately it gives a lot of good PR pros a bad rap. It also makes it more difficult for your story idea to be heard when pitching reporters. Your pitch could be the perfect story and target the perfect reporter, but it may never even see the light of day. It isn’t just a numbers game; it is about standing out in a sea of spam emails. As a former reporter, I know firsthand the value of a well-crafted pitch. Once the pitch is crafted, here are 7 tips to help you stand out:
- Build Relationships. One way to help your pitches get noticed is to create relationships. If a reporter recognizes your email and you have a reputation of sending relevant story ideas in the past, you are more likely to get his or her attention. As a PR pro our relationships are prized and must be nurtured. Be a go-to resource for reporters and get to know them beyond your own agenda.
- Pay Attention to Previous Stories. It is a good idea to research the reporter you are pitching in general, but a good way to stand out from other PR emails is to mention a previous story the reporter has written. This demonstrates that you pay attention to their work. But be careful not to pitch the same story the reporter already covered. The “me too” approach is rarely effective.
- Key words. Get creative with your pitches to stand out and pay attention to words that are trending. It is likely that most reporters have key words that they look for when deciding on stories to pursue. Keep up to date on words that are trending in different verticals and use them in your subject line.
- Use reporters’ beats. If a reporter writes a specific beat or column, pay attention. If a reporter typically covers tips, make sure that your pitch is tailored to their specific format and include tips that your spokesperson could offer.
- Extra extra! Read all about it! Subject lines serve the same purpose as headlines, to encourage people to read more. Try reading more headlines for inspiration.
- Always refresh. Just because a subject line works once, doesn’t mean you should use it repeatedly. Change it up, especially if you are sending a story idea to the same reporter. You want to refresh the creativity to get noticed.
- Follow up. If you’re confident that you’ve sent a good, relevant pitch to the right reporter, send a follow-up email or give them a call. In some cases, emails are not seen rather than ignored.
It can be difficult to capture a reporter’s attention, but by doing a little research and including key words, you are more likely to make it to the surface.
What do you do to stand out when pitching reporters? Or as a reporter, what catches your attention? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog. We’d love to hear from fellow PR professionals and journalists alike.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.