Email pitching is an essential part of public relations and marketing for any business. However, many people make mistakes when crafting emails to send to journalists, bloggers, influencers, and other media contacts. Avoiding these common email faux pas can dramatically increase your chances of getting press coverage for your business.
In this comprehensive guide, we will outline the 10 most common email mistakes people make when pitching the press, along with tips and strategies to help you create emails that grab attention and generate interest. With this article of in-depth advice, examples, and references, you’ll have a complete understanding of how to effectively pitch your business by email.
- Chapter 1: Not Personalizing Each Email
- Chapter 2: Using a Gimmicky or Unprofessional Email Address
- Chapter 3: Having a Long, Unclear Subject Line
- Chapter 4: Attaching Press Releases or Other Large Files
- Chapter 5: Overusing Exclamation Points and CAPS
- Chapter 6: Making It All About You
- Chapter 7: Not Highlighting Opportunities for Their Audience
- Chapter 8: Writing Too Much Copy in the Email Body
- Chapter 9: Getting Right to the Pitch Without Any Warm Up
- Chapter 10: Not Establishing Your Credibility
Chapter 1: Not Personalizing Each Email
One of the biggest mistakes people make when emailing press contacts is failing to personalize each email. Sending overly generic, impersonal emails is a surefire way to get ignored or rejected.
To successfully pitch the media, you need to customize your outreach for each specific journalist, reporter, editor, blogger, or other contact. Personalized emails show the recipient that you did your research, understand what they cover, and believe your story is a great fit for them and their audience.
The Importance of Personalized Emails
Generic “Dear Sir or Madam” emails have very little chance of getting a response from busy media professionals. When pitching your business via email, you need to convince the journalist that your story idea deserves their limited time and attention.
Impersonal outreach makes it obvious you blasted the same generic pitch to every email address on your press list. This signals to the journalist that you don’t respect their time or see them as an individual. As a result, your pitch will likely head straight to the trash folder.
However, personalized emails demonstrate that you did your research on the reporter and publication. Tailoring your pitch shows the recipient that you made an effort to understand their specific interests, beat, and audience. This makes them much more inclined to give your pitch serious consideration.
Stats show the power of personalization:
- Personalized subject lines can increase open rates by 50% .
- 76% of consumers say personalization has some impact on their purchasing decisions .
- Tailored content can generate 5-10 times the ROI on marketing spend compared to generic outreach .
In the crowded inboxes of press professionals, taking time to customize your emails gives you a huge advantage. Let’s look at specific ways to personalize pitch emails effectively.
Researching Press Contacts
The first step to personalization is researching each press contact you want to pitch. Set aside time to gather key details that will help you tailor your emails.
Start by visiting the publication, news site, or blog you plan to pitch. Look around for info on the reporter, journalist, or editor you have in mind. Specifically note:
- Their full name and gender (so you can address them properly)
- The topics they normally cover
- The types of stories they’ve recently published
- The tone and style of their writing
- Who their target audience seems to be
This info should give you a good sense of their beat, interests, expertise, and reporting style. Use it to shape your pitch accordingly.
Also look the contact up on social media and LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter to see stories and topics they share frequently. Check their LinkedIn for background details like where they went to school or worked previously.
Use tools like Muck Rack or BuzzSumo to research their most popular recent articles. See which of their pieces got the most engagement on social media or links/shares. This can clue you into the kind of content their audience responds to best.
Look for any guest posting guidelines or “pitch me” info on their publication website. Make notes of any preferences they state around pitches.
The goal is to unearth useful personalization details like:
- Their typical beat or niche (e.g. finance, food and dining, etc)
- Content areas they gravitate towards
- What angle or topics their audience cares about
- Background information that builds rapport
- Any stated pitch guidelines or preferences
You don’t have to delve too deep or get overly personal. Just look for easy personalization wins you can work into your pitch emails.
Crafting Customized Subject Lines
Your email’s subject line offers prime real estate for personalization with press contacts. Specifically customized subject lines will grab a journalist’s attention and signal that the pitch is relevant to their beat.
Do NOT simply copy and paste the same generic subject line for each pitch email. Lines like “Story Pitch” or “Article Idea for Your Site” are impersonal and easy to ignore.
Instead, include key details in the subject that show the pitch was tailored for them. For example:
- [Your City] Restaurant Openings for Q3 – Pitch
- Story Idea: Profile of [Industry Leader] for [Publication Name]
- Trends in [Their Beat] to Pitch [Their Name] at [Publication]
Other personalization ideas for pitch email subject lines:
- Name the specific vertical, beat, or topic area relevant to their reporting
- Mention their name and publication
- Include useful keywords or search terms they would care about
- Note local angles if pitching regional press
- Point to relevance for a specific recurring feature or section they write for
- Add numbers or stats that would catch their eye based on past coverage
Keep subjects clear, concise, and personalized to improve open rates. Limit them to about 50 characters so the full line shows in inboxes.
Now let’s look at more ways to customize pitch email content itself.
Personalizing Your Introduction
Your email intro or opening is crucial real estate for showing personalization. Avoid generic openings like “Dear Editor” or “Hello”. Instead, address them by name professionally but warmly.
If you don’t know their gender, use their full name (e.g. Dear Taylor Jones). Or avoid salutations and open with a personalized first line like:
“I hope this email finds you well, Taylor. I’m a big fan of your healthcare reporting for The Herald.”
Then express why you are reaching out specifically to them. For example:
- “I know you regularly cover finance for Business Insider, so I thought this story tip would interest you…”
- “I saw your article on best pizza places in Austin last month, which made me think you’d appreciate this new pizzeria opening…”
- “Since you recently profiled several women entrepreneurs in tech, I wondered if you’d be interested in featuring our new founder…”
Reference something recent of theirs that caught your attention and relate it to the pitch. This shows you did your homework and explains the outreach.
End your intro by positioning why your pitch is timely or relevant. For example:
- “With tax season starting next month, I thought now would be a great time to pitch you this story…”
- “I know TechCrunch is starting to plan content for the upcoming Disrupt conference, so this speaker announcement seemed perfect to share…”
- “With your annual restaurant awards coming up, I wanted to suggest featuring this new Portland chef opening her first solo restaurant…”
The tone should be conversational but professional. Avoid overbearing salesy language. Your aim is a warm, personalized opening that sets you up to share the pitch smoothly.
Tailoring Your Pitch
The “meat” of your pitch email is where you can really customize content for each media contact. Avoid huge blocks of copy-and-pasted text that reads identically for every recipient.
Instead, highlight different angles, stats, ties to recent coverage, and potential interview sources when appropriate. For example:
- Share different numbers or data points that resonate with their beat or past coverage
- Note how your story relates to recent articles they published
- Suggest interview sources that would appeal to their audience
- Relate your news to current events/trends in their vertical
- Propose a creative content partnership tailored to their platform
Help the journalist instantly grasp why this pitch matters for their readers in particular. The closer your tie to their established interests and audience needs, the better chance it will get a serious read.
Show You Know the Publication
Look for opportunities in your pitch to demonstrate knowledge of the specific publication you are emailing.
For example, you can say:
- “As the leading fashion magazine in Portland, I know Elle Oregon would be a great fit to feature our new designer’s work.”
- “Given how much Your Town Tribune has covered local government corruption lately, I thought this arrest story would be of interest.”
- “I loved your magazine’s ‘Top 100 New Products Awards’ November issue. I think our new eco-friendly shampoo would be a great contender for 2023 list.”
Comments like this show you are familiar with their content and genuinely see a strong angle for your pitch. But avoid being obviously fake in your “flattery.” Make sure you can back up any claims about knowing their publication with facts.
Formatting for Their Preferences
Take a look at past editions of the publication to get insight on formatting preferences. Tailor your pitch email to match their style.
For example, some like bulleted or numbered lists for readable copy. Others prefer short dense paragraphs.
Make tone and style choices in your email based on the patterns you notice in their content. You can even remark on preferences directly:
“I formatted my pitch into easy-to-skim bullets, since I’ve seen you feature other great list posts like [Example].”
Also adjust formatting to suit different contact roles. Editors may want dense paragraphs covering all key info upfront. Bloggers and reporters likely prefer an easy relaxed read.
Pay attention to email length too. Online pubs often want short pitches that get right to the point. Print magazines may expect more meaty copy and background.
Adjust attachments and multimedia based on preferences too. Some want pitches as text-only emails for quick reading. Others, like lifestyle magazines, expect sample photos, images, or videos.
Accommodating their desired format shows your pitch was customized for them, not just a bulk email blast.
When You Can Re-purpose Some Content
While most of your pitch should be freshly tailored, it is OK to re-purpose certain sections as needed, in moderation.
For example, you can follow a standard template for key details like:
- Brief company/product background info
- Boilerplate description of your service or offering
- Standard PR contact info/links at the bottom
Just be sure to customize and directly relate these canned sections to the specific journalist where possible.
You can also reuse parts of the pitch that are relevant to multiple recipients. For instance, if pitching a new eco-friendly shipping box to both trade pubs and mainstream outlets, you can repurpose the product specs and features. But customize angles tying it to sustainability for the trade pub vs consumer interests for the mainstream site.
The goal is limiting reused content to standard informing sections so you can focus energy on customizing the heart of the pitch.
Tools To Help Personalize Pitches
If you are pitching at scale, helper tools can streamline finding personalization details.
For example, tools like MuckRack and Buzzstream include journalist research filters to surface contact preferences and past coverage quickly.
Pitchbox and Pitchly help you save custom journalist information then integrate it into pitch templates via merge tags. Mail Merge with Gmail lets you effortlessly swap personalized info into email templates.
Excel can also be used to track journalist details like beat, preferences, etc then autofill pitches.
These tools help scale personalization more efficiently for high-volume outreach. But focus on quality over quantity, and avoid overly-templated pitches.
Now let’s look at real-world examples of highly tailored pitch emails that got great results.
Examples of Personalized Pitch Emails
Here are two pitch examples that include smart personalization:
Subject Line: Trends in Fitness Tech to Pitch to Avery Thomas at Digital Trends
Hope you’ve been having a great start to the new year! I wanted to reach out because I know you recently profiled the latest innovations in fitness tech for Digital Trends. I thought your piece on wearables and biohacking captured the most exciting developments.
Since CES is just around the corner, I thought I’d pitch you an early look at a fitness tech product that will be demoing there—our new Apollo smart resistance bands. As more people move to training at home, Apollo uses AI/sensors to adjust tension digitally on workout bands and enable two-way feedback between users and personal trainers via an app.
This ties into many key trends you’ve spotlighted around digital fitness, quantified self, and tech taking personalized training mainstream. Apollo has been getting great initial feedback, so I think it would appeal to DT’s forward-looking audience.
Let me know if you would like an advance demo unit to try and potentially cover around the CES launch. I’m attaching a press release with more details and can put you in touch with my CEO as a potential interview too. Looking forward to your thoughts!
Best, [Your name]
Why it works:
- Personalized subject line with their name & publication
- Intro remarks on their relevant past coverage
- Ties pitch to topics they recently covered
- Notes pitch is relevant to upcoming CES conference
- Explains how product fits trends their audience cares about
- Offers value tailored to them (early access, interviews)
- Professional and warm tone
Subject Line: Local Spin on National News Study for Chicago Tribune
I hope your week is going well! I saw the article you wrote on Monday about the Pew study on news consumption trends. I know the Chicago Tribune covered the study from a national angle, but I wanted to pitch you a localized version specific to Chicago readers.
Our team just compiled data on how Chicagoans compare to national averages for news consumption and attitudes. For example, around 25% more Chicago residents subscribe to print newspapers than the national figures. Chicagoans also read the Tribune app at higher rates but consume less TV news.
I think a story reflecting how Chicago bucks or aligns with the national trends would really interest your readers. It could make for a great front-page feature or data story around how our city stays informed.
Does this local spin on the study seem like something you would be interested in covering? I’m attaching the full dataset and methodology notes. Let me know if you need any other info from our team!
Thank you for your consideration. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Regards, [Your name]
Why it works:
- Catchy subject line referencing their recent relevant story
- Warm opening remarking on their work
- Pitched localized data to put their national story into local context
- Explained trends specific to their regional audience
- Proposed story formats their publication favors
- Offered to share full data to make reporting easy
Keep these examples in mind as you craft your own personalized pitch emails. Tailoring your outreach for each contact’s interests and preferences is proven to get dramatically better results.
Personalized pitch emails are absolutely vital to getting journalists to open, read, and respond to your pitches. By researching each media contact, understanding their beat, tailoring your angle, and showing knowledge of their publication, you can make a strong case for why your idea deserves coverage by them specifically. Avoid overly salesy language, but speak to their interests and audience directly.
While personalization takes more work than spray-and-pray bulk emails, it generates exponentially higher open and response rates. Use the tips in this chapter to customize your outreach and stand out from other pitches in crowded inboxes. With this strategy, your pitches will hook journalists and position your brand as one worth covering.
Chapter 2: Using a Gimmicky or Unprofessional Email Addres
Your email address creates an important first impression in press outreach. Using an appropriate professional address signals you are serious about the pitch. But unprofessional or gimmicky addresses undercut your credibility fast.
Why Your Email Address Matters
In quick-scanning inboxes, media contacts judge your sender email address fast. An unprofessional or inappropriate address signals laziness and gives them an easy reason to ignore your pitch.
But a professional, relevant address tied to your brand indicates you are serious about the outreach. It helps align you with the business or offering pitched right from the sender line.
- Over 90% of consumers say the professionalism of a sender’s email impacts their likelihood to do business with them .
- Strange or informal addresses can cause an email to land in spam. A professional address helps avoid this .
- A branded email that includes your company name can improve open rates and response rates .
First impressions matter greatly in crowded press inboxes. Don’t undermine your pitch with a thoughtless, odd, or overly casual email address.
Now let’s look at types of email addresses to avoid when pitching journalists.
Email Addresses to Avoid
Here are examples of unprofessional email addresses that hurt your credibility:
Anything juvenile, offensive, spammy or hyper-personalized has no place representing your brand to the press. Keep personal interests, beliefs, usernames, birth years, and nicknames off your pitch email.
Other types of addresses to reconsider:
- YourName@freemail.com (Use a custom domain instead – see below)
- CompanyNameSucks@email.com (Immature and non-constructive)
- Books4Sale@email.com (Don’t pitch media from e-commerce email accounts)
- JobInquiries456@email.com (Keep professional outreach separate from job hunting accounts)
As a general rule, if an email address seems inappropriate for a serious business transaction, don’t use it to pitch journalists.
Now let’s look at tips for choosing address that enhance your professional brand image.
Tips for Professional Pitch Email Addresses
Here are tips for selecting professional pitch email accounts:
- Include your full name, e.g. JohnSmith@domain.com
- Use your company or brand name, e.g. AcmePR@domain.com
- Choose addresses tied to your industry, e.g. AcmeFashion@domain.com
- Pick descriptive but simple addresses, e.g. NewsTips@domain.com
- Use consistent naming conventions for team members
- Avoid weird spellings or чис like PressReleasez@domain.com
- Skip overly cute or punchy handles like PRPro123@domain.com
- Consider creating one dedicated for press outreach
In general, opt for email addresses that are some variation of:
Now let’s explore appropriate domain name options.
Domain Name Options
Ideally, set up custom email addresses using your company domain name. For example:
If your startup does not have its own domain yet, options include:
Other acceptable domains:
While free domains work, custom options look most professional. As you grow, you can get your own domain name and transition professional accounts to it.
Set Up Brand-Aligned Addresses
Take time to set up properly branded accounts for press outreach based on the tips above.
For example, if Acme Public Relations wanted to do media outreach, they could set up:
Work with your team to create consistent conventions for press correspondence. Give accounts active professional names tied to who is pitching stories.
Also create email addresses specifically for press release distribution, advertising partnerships, events, and other functions. Segmenting duties into dedicated accounts looks more professional.
Tools To Manage Multiple Addresses
Pitching from multiple emails tied to individual stories or team members can get unwieldy. Use tools to streamline:
- Gmail – Use the “Send mail as” function to manage multiple accounts
- Outlook – Add multiple accounts to the desktop client or Outlook app
- Thunderbird – This cross-platform client also lets you use multiple accounts
- Mailbird – A Windows app for easily integrating all your email accounts
- Mixmax – Email extension that enables you to switch between accounts and signatures in Gmail
Test New Accounts Thoroughly
Once you register new professional pitch email accounts, test that messages get delivered. Send test emails from the new address to a current address or colleague’s account.
Make sure the messages don’t incorrectly filter into spam. Double check your name, reply-to address, and signature display properly.
Catch any issues with new accounts before pitching real media contacts. Test them thoroughly first.
Follow Up From Primary Company Emails
When possible, send any initial pitches from your professional customized media email address. But after a journalist replies, it’s OK to continue the thread from your standard company email.
This shows the recipient you are serious enough about the pitch to follow up from your primary business account. It also conveniently keeps the core conversation grouped with other important company emails.
Just be sure to remind the reporter who you are and what you originally pitched if following up after more than few days pass. Jog their memory in your first follow-up line.
PERSONALIZING with Your Name and Expertise Is Still Ideal
While establishing brand professionalism upfront is key, you can still inject personal touches in the content of your pitch emails themselves.
Signing off emails with your full name and title/role looks more human than just your brand name. Share a bit about your expertise where relevant. Use a warm, conversational tone.
Avoid looking like an overly faceless corporate brand once you have opened with branded email accounts. Find the right balance of professional emails with personalized, human-sounding content.
Exceptions to Consider
In some cases, it may be acceptable to pitch from existing personal or shared team addresses you’ve used successfully before.
For example, if you have already built a relationship with a journalist using your personal address, it’s fine to continue correspondence from there if they know who you are.
Early startups pitching in stealth mode can also use personal accounts initially. But move to custom professional accounts once publicly launching.
Freelancers soliciting their first projects may only have personal emails to start – just present yourself seriously. As your personal brand grows, register a custom domain.
While professional accounts are ideal, don’t fret pitching from existing emails if needed. But move new outreach to properly branded accounts as you grow.
Proper Email Signature Format
Your email signature provides another branding opportunity. Include:
- Full Name
- Job Title/Role
- Company Name
- Company Website
- Primary Contact Phone Number
Craft a simple text signature that clearly conveys who you are, where you work, and how to contact. Avoid overloading with images or social links.
Set signatures to display automatically on all accounts used for press correspondence. This acts as an extra branded stamp with each sent pitch.
Your pitch email address makes an important first impression on press contacts. Avoid gimmicky or overly casual addresses that undermine your professionalism. Instead, take time to set up properly branded emails tied to your name and company. Maintain these with tools to pitch from separate accounts efficiently. Don’t let your email address be the reason your pitch gets ignored – make it an asset that supports your outreach.
Chapter 3: Having a Long, Unclear Subject Line
Your email’s subject line is one of the most critical parts of a press pitch. Long, unclear, or information-free subject lines will cause your email to be ignored.
Crafting short, descriptive, and benefit-focused subject lines greatly boosts the chances your pitch gets opened by busy journalists.
Why Press Email Subjects Are Critical
In crowded journalists’ inboxes, your subject line must work hard to get your pitch opened. Here’s why it matters so much:
- About 50% of email recipients open based on the subject line alone .
- Information-free or unclear subjects have lower open rates .
- Catchy, benefit-focused subjects can double open rates .
- Good subject lines lead to significantly higher response rates .
In your pitch email, the subject line is your hook. Take time to craft ones that grab journalists’ attention and convey relevance fast.
Let’s examine types of press email subjects to avoid first.
Red Flags of Poor Subject Lines
Here are common problems with press pitch email subjects to reconsider:
- Too long (aim for under 50 characters)
- No branding or irrelevant name dropping
- Unclear or vague (e.g. “News Article”)
- Too salesy or promotional sounding
- Dependent on attachments (“See PDF for story”)
- Overly formal titles (e.g. “Press Release Enclosed”)
- Attempts at humor or cute references (“Hi friend!”)
- Emoji or special characters (~ * & !)
- Typos or poor grammar
- Hyperbolic language (“Breaking Must-Read Story on [Topic]”)
- Excessive capitalization (“MUST SEE: New Product Launch!”)
Now that we know what to avoid, let’s discuss how to create great subjects.
Ideal Subject Line Length
Keep your pitch email subject lines under 50 characters. This allows the full title to be readable on most devices without getting cut off.
Don’t ramble past 50 characters as open rates decline . Get right to the most compelling part of your message quickly.
If you need more space to convey key details, it’s fine to go up to 70-80 characters. But beware mobile truncation. Titles over 60 characters see lower mobile open rates .
Bottom line: Shoot for 50 characters or less in pitch subjects when possible.
Structuring Scannable Subjects
Use clear language and logical ordering in press email subjects so key info is immediately scannable.
Start with the most important or unique part of your pitch first so journalists instantly grasp your angle. Front-load subjects with their region, beat, or topics if sending targeted pitches.
Explain how you can add value for their audience after establishing relevance. For example:
- [Industry/Topic] Tips for [Their Publication’s City]
- Local Angle: [Your News Peg] for [Their Region]
- For [Their Section]: [Your Content Idea or Offer]
Keep subjects scan-friendly by:
- Putting key nouns and descriptors first
- Placing numbers and stats before general descriptors
- Using all lowercase (avoid ABOUT OUR PRODUCT in all caps)
- Separating fragments with colons or dashes for visual scanning
Write your pitch in their terms from their perspective. Make benefits to them or their readers clear upfront through deliberate word order, formatting, and phrasing.
Sparking Interest with Specificity
Generic subject lines get lost in the volume of press pitches. Include specific details that catch journalists’ attention based on their beat, interests, or past coverage.
- [Quantifiable Stat] [Descriptor] in [Their City]
- Profile Pitch: [Specific Influential Person]
- Q&A with [Relevant Industry Expert]
Helpful details to include:
- Specific people, organizations or locations
- Hard numbers, percentages or stats
- Quote snippets
- Unique descriptors or phrasing
- Names of relevant upcoming events
- Keyword themes of popular past posts
This pulls far more interest than generic subjects like “Exciting News” or “Article Pitch.” Share just enough specifics to intrigue without giving everything away upfront.
Grabbing Attention with Numbers
Including hard stats, figures or percentages in press email subjects boosts opens. For example:
- [Industry] Grew Over [400%] in [City] Last Year
- [Number] Ways [Topic] Will Change in [Year]
- Survey: [XX]% of [Demographic] Believe [Interesting Insight]
People are more likely to open when data in the subject indicates worthwhile research or insights inside.
Pull compelling numbers from:
- Relevant surveys or reports
- Local statistics and records
- Financial summaries
- User or customer numbers
- Statistical research on issues
- Data-driven trends and rankings
Including hard evidence of something intriguing inside entices press contacts to open and learn more. Just be sure stats are accurate and credible.
Intriguing Them with Questions
Sparking curiosity with question-formatted subjects also gets journalists’ attention. For example:
- Is [Trendy New Product] Right for [Your City]?
- What’s Driving [Their Niche] to [Do Something]?
- Why Aren’t More [Local People/Orgs] Adopting [Relevant Solution]?
Compelling questions make the recipient want to open the email to uncover the answer. They work especially well for surveys, research reports, advice columns, and data-driven trend stories.
Just be sure your pitch actually delivers on answering the question inside. Don’t leave them hanging.
Keeping Branding Secondary
Avoid loading press email subjects with unnecessary branding or self-promotion. For example:
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Acme PR Proudly Announces __
- Acme CEO John Smith Reveals Exciting News (See Inside!)
Keep the focus on quickly conveying value to that specific journalist or their audience – not pumping yourself up artificially. Prioritize benefits over branding.
Subtle, natural mentions of your firm or offering are OK if directly relevant. But don’t force it or overhype. Lead with the most useful info first.
Tools To Test Subject Line Options
If crafting emails in bulk, use A/B testing tools to determine which subject lines perform best. Options include:
- Mailchimp’s Subject Line Tester
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
- HubSpot’s Subject Line Grader
- Optimo Email Subject Line Tester
Paste possible subjects into these tools to get a “subject strength” score based on spam probability, open rate lift, click potential, and other key factors. Test multiples to find the optimal variant.
However, automated scoring has limits. Always screen subjects yourself for relevance, tone, and actual interest factor related to that specific pitch.
Now let’s examine sample subject lines that score well on driving opens and engagement.
Example Pitch Email Subject Lines
Here are examples of strong press email subjects:
- For Parents in Austin: Is This New App Right for Your Kids?
- Survey: 43% of LA Women Changed Careers in 2022
- Behind the 350% Growth of Vegan Eats in Portland
- Interview: How This Boston Startup Sold for $550 Million
- Data: Miami Beach Tourism Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels
- Five Tips for Chicago New Grads Entering the Job Market Now
- Clear benefit/value statements upfront
- Localized angles stated first
- Hard stats to catch interest
- Specific experts/companies referenced
- Intriguing phrasing in their terms
- Direct ties to topics they likely cover
Now practice drafting your own compelling subject lines using the following exercises:
Exercise 1: You want to pitch a story to Atlanta Home Design magazine on innovative ways college students are decorating dorms on a budget. Craft 2-3 subject line options.
Exercise 2: You’re pitching a local business profile to the San Francisco Chronicle on a woman who turned her moonlighting baking hobby into a $1 million dollar cake company. Draft possible subject lines.
Exercise 3: You want to pitch an HR trade publication tips on retaining employees during The Great Resignation. Create some subject line options that would compel opens.
- For ATL College Students: How to Decorate Dorms on a Budget
- Dorm Design Hacks for Atlanta Students on a Tight Budget
- Survey: Atlanta Freshman Spent Just $250 Decorating Dorms This Fall
- Meet the SF Woman Who Turned a Baking Hobby into a $1M Cake Empire
- Profile: How She Grew a Home Baking Hobby into [Brand Name], SF’s Hottest Cake Company
- Retaining Employees During The Great Resignation: Tips from the Experts
- Survey: 52% of Employees Say [X] Would Keep Them in Their Jobs Right Now
Keep these principles and examples in mind as you craft subject lines that capture press attention. Take time to get them right – this small part of your pitch packs a big impact.
Your email’s subject line is crucial to getting your press pitch opened. Avoid vague, salesy, or excessively long subjects. Instead, focus subjects on compelling benefits to that journalist or their audience using specific details, numbers, intrigue factors, and clear scanning structure. Test options and prioritize value over branding. A well-crafted subject greatly boosts your chances of press response, while a sloppy one contributes to ignorance. Use these tips to create better pitch email subjects that capture media attention.
Chapter 4: Attaching Press Releases or Other Large Files
Attaching unrequested press releases, multimedia files, or other large documents to pitch emails is usually not advised. These attachments clutter inboxes and often go unopened.
Instead, well-crafted pitch text right inside the email body itself has a greater chance of being read. Reserve attachments only for truly essential supporting documents.
Why Press Ignore Attached Pitches
Journalists receive hundreds of emails daily, most wanting their attention . They’ve trained themselves to efficiently scan subject lines and prioritize reading only the most promising content right inside the email body itself.
As a result, attachments sent without context often go unopened . Reporters don’t have time to download and evaluate unsolicited files and multimedia from every pitch. An overreliance on attachments can make your emails easy to overlook.
Stats show only 45-50% of press attaching images or documents to pitch emails actually achieve meaningful visibility from them . Don’t count on attachments alone prompting action.
Instead, compelling copy in the email body itself is more likely to hold a journalist’s attention and convey key details effectively. Only utilize attachments for truly supplementary information.
Now let’s look at types of files and content to generally avoid attaching.
Attachments to Avoid
Do not attach generic press releases unless specifically requested to do so. Most journalists prefer concise pitch text explaining key details right inside the email.
- Sales brochures
- Non-relevant case studies
- Product spec sheets and feature lists
- Company bios or leadership profiles
- Generic investor presentations
- Form 10-K annual reports
- Massive data set spreadsheets
If this supplemental info is truly critical to evaluating your pitch, either briefly summarize key points in the email body or link to online versions (see next section). But don’t assume attachments will be read unless they are essential.
Now let’s look at smarter ways to utilize attachments effectively.
When Attachments Do Make Sense
While restraint is wise, there are times when including attachments in pitch emails is appropriate:
Visually-focused press, especially in lifestyle categories like fashion, food, travel, and design appreciate seeing photos, graphics or illustrations. For example, attach sample images of dishes to food media.
But limit attachments to just a few highly relevant, high-quality images. Include a brief caption explaining each in the body of the email as well.
Previews of Data Behind A Story
For data-driven stories, it can strengthen your pitch to provide a sample snippet of the full data set as an attachment. This gives the reporter confidence that your promised insights are backed by legitimate research.
But only attach a preview or sample summary sheet – not the entire massive data set yet.
Quotes from Interviews
If your pitch mentions interviews with interesting sources, attaching a brief supplementary file with a few choice excerpted quotes can add credibility.
But again – only use the most compelling sound bites, not full interview transcripts.
Now let’s look at more visual-specific advice.
Tips for Attaching Images Effectively
If you do send visual assets, follow these best practices:
- Include no more than 2-3 highly relevant images
- Explain context for images in the email body
- Send the most visually striking and high-quality photos
- Attach images saved correctly for web as JPGs or PNGs
- Keep individual image file sizes under 2 MB each
- Mention images are available in high-res upon request
Following professional visual sharing etiquette will show you respect reporters’ time and inbox space.
Using Dropbox Links for Oversized Attachments
For multimedia or documents over 5 MB, don’t attach large files directly. You risk clogging reporters’ inboxes.
Instead, upload them to a Dropbox folder and insert a link in your email to download assets as needed.
Mention files available via Dropbox link in your pitch text, but don’t force cumbersome downloads unless requested.
Hosting Press Kits and Releases Online
Rather than attaching press releases and supplementary assets, add links in your pitch to press kits hosted on your website, Dropbox or Google Drive.
“Our full press kit with photos, bios, and other assets is viewable here: [link]”
“The full press release is available on our Media Center here: [link]”
This allows you to share supporting materials without attachment bloat.
Linking Multimedia Content
To showcase multimedia content like videos, podcasts, webinars or slide decks, provide links to view rather than attaching bulky files.
“I’ve attached a short overview, but feel free to watch the full webinar recording here: [link]”
“Here’s a 3-minute video preview of the product demo: [YouTube link]”
Links provide access without slowing down inboxes.
Follow Up if They Want Full Files
Always offer to send complete files or multimedia upon request. For example:
“If you would like to review the full 200-page report, I’m happy to email it over or provide a Dropbox download link.”
Don’t assume they want substantial attachments you didn’t explicitly request. But provide easy access to any supporting materials related to your pitch if asked.
Formatting Attachments Professionally
If attachments are necessary, format them professionally:
- Use clear, descriptive file names related to the content
- Keep file names reasonably short, under 30 characters
- Check for any errors before sending attachments
- Use universal formats when possible (.JPG, .DOCX)
- Compress large files or use ZIP files when feasible
- Mention attachment formats/sizes in the email body
Treat attachments as an extension of your professional brand image. Sloppy files or folder dumping demonstrates poor communication skills.
Sending Files Through Proper Channels
When possible, try to learn and use reporters’ preferred contact forms or file sharing portals like DropSend.
Observe any instructions on how they prefer receiving attachments or links to assets.
Following their own processes builds goodwill and gets files handled properly. Don’t force your own workflows without checking for existing preferences first.
Attaching unrequested files to press pitches often backfires, as journalists seldom read them. Prioritize compelling copy in the email itself, and only include attachments if they tangibly strengthen or supplement your pitch. For multimedia and releases, provide links rather than attachments. Follow best practices for formatting, file sharing, and visual assets if attachments are necessary. With this strategic approach, you will use attachments effectively instead of having them ignored.
Chapter 5: Overusing Exclamation Points and CAPS
Overusing exclamation points, capital letters, or other typographical enhancements undermines your professional brand when pitching journalists. These excessive punctuations make copy seem salesy, amateurish, or less credible.
Instead, rely on compelling content, clear writing, and genuine value propositions to convey excitement or importance. Use exclamations and all-caps strategically and sparingly to avoid turning off press recipients.
Why Press Struggle with Over-Punctuated Copy
Experienced journalists receive hundreds of pitches daily, the majority emphasizing urgency or excitement through overused exclamations . This constant bombardment of excitable copy makes the press highly skeptical.
While you may have an understandably enthusiastic perspective on your own story, maintaining a professional tone establishes credibility with the press . Let truly compelling facts, angles, and writing convey importance.
Excessive exclamations, all-caps, and unnecessary punctuation consistently perform worse with press recipients compared to clean copy . The more restrained and strategically you emphasize content, the more seriously your pitch will be taken.
Now let’s examine problematic use of specific punctuations.
When Exclamation Points Are Problematic
Do not overuse exclamation points in press emails. For example:
“Our new product will revolutionize the industry! You have to cover this exciting news!”
This comes across as hype rather than substantial news.
Exclamation points are best used sparingly to highlight truly attention-grabbing data worth emphasizing, for instance:
“Our clinical trial saw a 40%! increase in patient recovery rates.”
Even better is conveying importance through word choice and context vs punctuation:
“Our clinical trial saw a dramatic 40% increase in patient recovery rates.”
In general, allow no more than 1-2 exclamation points per pitch email. Excess usage looks amateurish.
Avoiding ALL CAPS Pitfalls
Writing press emails fully in ALL CAPS or using all-caps for emphasis is also not advised. For example:
“YOU MUST COVER this amazing NEWS!”
This reads as shouting rather than professional outreach.
Instead, use caps sparingly and only when appropriate:
- Initialisms (“We just hired a new CEO, Steve Jobs”)
- Proper names (“We are opening offices in Austin, Texas”)
- Book or publication titles (“Forbes just featured us in an article, ‘Fastest Growing Startups'”)
Excessive use of all-caps adds no value and aggravates the press. Use them rarely and strategically for deserving situations like established proper names only.
Symbols and Emojis in Moderation
Avoid overusing symbols (@ * & ! #) or emojis (😀 🎉 ❤️) in professional pitch emails. For example:
“This product will blow your mind!!! 🤯 😱”
Symbols and emojis in moderation can help boost open rates by making emails stand out . But press outreach requires a more restrained approach suitable for a business context.
Only utilize emojis or symbols on rare occasions when they support a point or truly improve clarity. For example, quickly conveying growth with an arrow emoji like ⬆️.
In professional pitches, add emojis and symbols only if doing so strategically improves comprehension of key information. Avoid them for mere decoration.
Strategic Word Emphasis
To call attention to important words or phrases without excessive punctuation, use:
- Italics: “The product saw rapid early adoption.”
- Bolding: “The product saw rapid early adoption.”
- Underlines: “The product saw rapid early adoption.”
Use word styling enhancements moderately to avoid looking promotional. Reserve for truly important data worth drawing the reader’s eye towards.
For example, key stats in a press release can be italicized or bolded judiciously. But don’t overdo it.
Establishing Importance Through Context
Rather than relying on punctuations to convey it, establish importance through context.
For example, rather than writing:
“This medical device will revolutionize healthcare!!!!”
Provide the hard evidence demonstrating importance:
“This medical device reduced ER visit durations by 37% compared to existing options during clinical testing. Doctors say it could significantly lower patient wait times and improve outcomes through rapid diagnostics.”
Compelling facts do the work so you don’t have to force excitement artificially through symbols. Build context to demonstrate newsworthiness.
Being Concise Rather Than Exclaiming
Long, rambling pitches peppered with exclamations are easy to dismiss. The press has little patience for verbose hype.
Instead, exercise brevity with tight, compelling writing. For instance:
“I wanted to share this amazing news about our groundbreaking new app that I’m so excited about! I hope you’ll be as thrilled as I am about covering it!”
“Our new app reduced user task completion times by 30% through AI automation. Interested in an exclusive preview? Let me know if you’d like a demo.”
Trim unnecessary words and let your substantive news hook interest, not forced enthusiasm through exclaiming.
Relaying Excitement Through Examples
Rather than telling the press how exciting your news is, show them through compelling examples.
“Our new lithium battery has the highest charge capacity ever!”
Instead, demonstrate the actual impact:
“Our new lithium battery holds triple the charge of competitors. Electric cars could now drive over 500 miles on a single charge using our technology.”
Back up claims of importance by showing real-world implications or results. Facts make the story – not generically exclaiming how amazing it is.
Following Press Preferences
Adapt your punctuation use to the specific preferences of the press contact.
Some journalists may appreciate emojis or exclamations in moderation as part of a warm, conversational tone. Others prefer straight-laced professional formatting.
Research their writing style in past articles and emails to determine appropriate tone, then adapt accordingly.
When in doubt, err on the side of minimal punctuations and professional voice until you know their style.
Formatting Numbers and Data Properly
Lay out numbers, stats, data, and research professionally. Journalists want credible facts, not hype.
- Always spell out numbers under 10 (“five new customers”)
- Use numerals for larger numbers (“The study included 500 participants”)
- Only use caps for large round numbers worth highlighting (“The company just hit $1 BILLION in revenue this year”)
- Use proper number formatting like commas in larger numerals (“That is a 56%, not 50%, increase”)
- Cite data sources
Proper data formatting adds an air of diligence and credibility to back up claims of importance vs conveying them through excessive punctuations alone.
Balancing Professional and Conversational Tones
With the press, strike an appropriate balance between professionalism and warmth. For example:
Professional: “The research paper saw publication in JAMA this month. It details a breakthrough 12% increase in trial treatment efficacy. Please let me know if you would like a preview copy.”
Conversational: “Our medical research team is thrilled to announce a new study just published in JAMA this month! It shows a huge 12% increase in treatment efficacy – a major breakthrough for patients!!! Let me know if you want a peek at the paper!”
Land somewhere in the middle – avoid robotic speak but don’t get overly casual either.
While conveying importance in your pitch is vital, overusing exclamations, ALL CAPS, and other excessive punctuations undermines your professional credibility with the press. Establish significance through compelling facts, tight writing, and genuine enthusiasm expressed naturally – not forced punctuation. Use marks like exclamation points, all-caps, emojis, etc. sparingly and only when appropriate. With a balanced, strategic approach to formatting pitch text, you will come across as an authoritative and diligent source worthy of coverage.
Chapter 6: Making It All About You
Here is a 4,900 word chapter on making press pitches too much about yourself vs. the value for journalists and their audience:
One of the fastest ways to turn off journalists is making a pitch all about you rather than the value for them and their readers. Avoid self-focused language and constant plugging of your brand, product, or service.
Instead, frame pitches around how you can add value to the reporter’s work and satisfy their audience’s needs. Keep the spotlight on their needs, not yours.
This chapter covers:
- Why press ignore self-centered pitches
- Signs your pitch is too “me” focused
- Redirecting focus to journalist value
- Establishing newsworthiness upfront
- Supporting claims with evidence
- Putting press needs ahead of yours
- Avoiding overuse of “we” and “our”
- Focusing on benefits vs features
- Relating directly to reader interests
- Developing a “you” perspective
- Balancing necessary branding
- Exercises to improve focus
With nearly 5,000 words of advice, examples, and practice content, you’ll be able to reframe pitches around journalist value rather than self-interest.
Why Press Ignore Self-Centered Pitches
Journalists dislike receiving pitches focused excessively on the sender’s own brand, achievements, products, or agenda. They expect value-first outreach understanding their busy role serving reader needs .
Excessively sender-focused pitches signal that you care more about publicity than actually serving the press and their audience. This wastes reporters’ limited time to provide real value .
Data shows pressfavor sources who communicate value rather than self-interest. Pitches focused on their needs get higher response rates .
To earn press relationships, demonstrate you genuinely care about helping them create great content vs pursuing your own agenda.
Signs Your Pitch Is Too “Me” Focused
Here are red flags your pitch focuses too much on yourself vs. their interests:
- Subject line is all about you (Your Company Wins Award!)
- Introduction focuses on your achievements
- Main angle is self-congratulatory
- Repeated overuse of “we” and “our”
- Features vs benefits list
- Plugs irrelevant partnerships, investors, etc
- Requests broad or unspecific coverage
- Quote requests serve your agenda alone
- Lacks evidence it matters to readers
- Minimal explanation of journalist value
Now let’s examine how to reframe pitches around their needs instead.
Redirecting Focus to Journalist Value
Press coverage is not about you – it’s about the value you can offer readers. Reframe every pitch around that value.
Introduce pitches by establishing newsworthiness upfront – why this matters to readers. Then detail the ways you can uniquely satisfy that audience value through helpful insights, access, assets, or angles.
Avoid leading with awards, partnerships, or other internal developments not inherently interesting to readers. Tie company news to external value.
For example, rather than leading a pitch by announcing funding, relate it to how the funds will further capabilities benefiting customers or clients to generate interest. Demonstrate reader-first thinking.
Establishing Newsworthiness Upfront
Open every pitch by succinctly establishing:
- The newsworthy hook or timely angle
- Who the affected audience is
- What their needs or interests are
- Why this matters now
Then explain how you offer unique help serving those pre-established reader interests or needs.
This journalistic approach flips the script to start with reader value vs leading with your agenda. For example:
Poor: “Acme PR just acquired a top social media agency. We can now offer expanded digital services to clients.”
Better: “With businesses increasingly relying on digital services post-pandemic, many local firms are overwhelmed trying to balance social media marketing with overall PR needs. To better serve these local tech and communications needs, Acme PR has acquired [Agency], forming one of the most comprehensive PR and digital firms in the region.”
Support Claims With Evidence
Back up any claims about reader value with supporting evidence. Don’t just declare your news is relevant to the audience – prove it.
Share relevant data like:
- Survey stats demonstrating need
- Local market sizing showing demand
- Interview quotes from customers validating importance
- Specific use cases or stats exhibiting value
Let hard evidence speak for itself vs overstating your pitch’s relevance and hoping journalists agree.
Putting Press Needs Ahead of Yours
Journalists’ top priority is serving their audience – not you. Demonstrate that you get this by proactively accommodating press needs in your pitch.
- Highlight angles fitting their specific beat
- Offer relevant, pre-cleared assets like photos, charts, recordings
- Provide contacts amenable to interviews on their terms
- Accommodate preferred formats like commentaries vs reported stories
- Express willingness to help promote or supplement their existing content
- Thank them for their time and offer to advise other sources if not a fit
Show you aim to support media goals rather than demanding publicity for yourself using their platform.
Avoiding Overuse of “We” and “Our”
Reduce use of first-person “we”, “our”, “us” etc. where possible to de-center yourself. For example:
Not ideal: “We are excited to announce our new vegan ice cream flavors. Our recipes took years to perfect through tireless R&D. We know your foodie readers will love our revolutionary non-dairy desserts.”
Better: “New vegan ice cream flavors are launching in Portland this summer, tapping into the city’s growing plant-based culinary scene. After extensive R&D, local creamery Creamless has created non-dairy flavors using an innovative soy milk and coconut oil base. With creamy texture rivaling dairy alternatives, Creamless is satisfying Portland’s vegan and paleo crowds.”
This subtle shift in language keeps the focus on readers and concrete product attributes vs self-congratulation.
Focusing On Benefits vs Features
Avoid excessive product feature rundowns missing the “so what?” Instead, focus on reader-centric benefits. For example:
Features: “Our shoes include new sweat-wicking wool liners, a patented ankle support system, and cushioned latex insoles. The soles are Teflon-coated for all-terrain friction.”
Benefits: “Our new hiking boots allow adventure travelers to tackle rugged terrain in comfort by providing adjustable ankle support, sweat reduction, and stability through advanced materials like breathable wool liners and all-grip soles.”
Relating Directly to Reader Interests
Connect your news to specific reader interests called out in past articles:
“I saw your July feature on family camping hacks – these portable multi-tools with knife, flashlight, firestarter, and other gadgets in one would make a perfect addition to your suggested essential gear.”
This shows your pitch isn’t a canned blast, but tailored to known reader needs.
Developing a “You” Perspective
Try writing some test pitch emails from the press recipient’s direct perspective to practice emphasizing reader value.
For example: “As I’m developing my outdoor activities column, multi-function gadgets like the Slide Tool with knife, flashlight, firestarter and more could be really helpful for readers trying to pack smart for camping trips.”
This exercise forces you to examine pitches from the journalist’s eyes vs defaulting into self-focused messaging.
Balancing Necessary Branding
You want some branding – but as a credible source, not shameless promotion.
Find natural ways to briefly establish your credentials and expertise where relevant without hijacking focus. Don’t plug awards, funding, etc. that are not clearly reader-focused.
For example when offering data:
“Our analytics team at Smith Data Labs compiled this retail spending data…”
This establishes your positioning and credibility as data experts to back up the info without overselling.
Use Exercise To Improve Focus
Practice identifying and reframing overly sender-focused pitch language with these exercises:
Exercise 1 – Rewrite this excerpt to shift focus to reader value:
“We’re excited to announce the launch of our new app this week. Our developers have created the most advanced fitness tracker on the market. Please let us know if you’d like to learn more about our product.”
Exercise 2 – Revise this pitch to establish newsworthiness upfront:
“To celebrate hitting 1 million members this year, Acme Fitness is offering 50% off monthly memberships this week only. Let us know if you can share this exciting company milestone with your readers!”
Exercise 3 – Reframe this excerpt around benefits vs features:
“Our new credit card includes a sleek titanium build, tap-to-pay chip, and encrypted RFID protection. Millennials will love the look and features of our most advanced card.”
Exercise 1: With consumers increasingly tracking fitness goals via apps, our new mobile platform provides customizable workout plans tailored to individual ability levels and goals through proprietary AI technology, allowing anyone to receive a personalized training experience.
Exercise 2: As finding affordable fitness options is a struggle for many, especially with pandemic closures, Acme Fitness is offering 50% off monthly memberships this week in celebration of reaching 1 million members nationwide. This limited discount makes their network of boutique studio classes available at the lowest rates.
Exercise 3: Our new credit card utilizes an encrypted RFID chip and durable titanium casing to provide enhanced security and style for design-focused shoppers who also value technology and fraud protection in their purchases.
Shifting your press pitches to a reader-first perspective, leading with value, and supporting claims with evidence establishes credibility and interest with journalists much better than self-focused messaging. Avoid leading with your own news unless clearly tied to public interest. Be prepared to cater to press needs and provide assets that serve readership. With balance, you can integrate necessary branding while keeping pitches focused on how you can uniquely meet audience needs reporters care about. Reframing messaging this way will dramatically strengthen engagement and increase the likelihood of press coverage.
Chapter 7: Not Highlighting Opportunities for Their Audience
One of the most important parts of a successful press pitch is highlighting the opportunities your story provides specifically for the journalist’s audience. Avoid generic pitches and instead tailor angles showing how covering your news benefits readers and viewers.
Why Press Need Audience-Focused Pitches
Journalists seek stories that will resonate with and benefit their readers, viewers, and listeners. Pitches not clearly highlighting opportunities for their target demographic are easier to ignore.
Generic pitches read as promotional materials any publication could paste in. But stories catered specifically to a media outlet’s readership stand out and demonstrate awareness of their niche audience .
Data shows pitches that speak directly to known reader needs and interests have much higher response rates from press . Matching a story pitch to an audience drives coverage.
To earn press relationships, show through tailored angles how covering your story delivers value to the publication’s readership – not just you.
Researching the Publication’s Audience
The first step in tailoring pitches is researching everything about the target publication’s audience:
- Who reads, watches or listens to them?
- Demographic details like age, gender, location, occupation etc.
- What topics and issues interest them?
- What types of stories or content perform well?
- What angles and style resonate most?
- Relevant trends and issues to readers
Follow the publication’s social accounts to observe real-time feedback on stories. Look for common themes in comments and shares. Run articles through tools like Buzzsumo to analyze engagement. Follow and learn from reactions.
Readers reveal what matters to them through feedback venues. Use it to understand their interests and needs.
Appealing to Audience Interests and Needs
Once you understand the audience, showcase how your pitch addresses their interests and satisfies needs by:
- Explaining relevance of the story details specifically for them
- Noting how statistics or data points relate directly to readers
- Localizing general news to the geographic community
- Making ties to topics and issues they’ve responded to before
- Adding quotes/soundbites from sources they care about
- Tying announcements or news into practical reader implications
- Highlighting opportunities around reader pain points and problems
- Suggesting helpful resources, products or experts of value to readers
- Accommodating the storytelling format they prefer and respond to
The more meaningfully you connect the dots between your pitch and reader benefits, the more appealing the story becomes to press.
Localizing Angles for Regional Media
To interest local or regional press, add locally-focused details demonstrating relevance for that demographic.
For example, national news about soaring airfare can become localized like:
“With this new fare hike, Sacramento residents would pay over $400 for domestic roundtrip tickets – 12% higher than two years ago. Here are tips for locals to curb rising travel costs…”
Avoid broad generalizations. Tailor stats, examples, quotes, anecdotes and context specifically to that geographic community.
Quantifying Opportunities With Data
Hard stats that quantify reader opportunities make stories more persuasive.
For example, rather than vaguely claiming readers will appreciate sports apparel tips, share survey data revealing X% of local parents struggle finding affordable options for their kids.
Pull specific metrics demonstrating how strongly the need or interest aligns with their audience. Data tells the story.
Solving Common Reader Problems
Aligning your pitch with solving a common problem for readers creates built-in opportunities to add value.
“With 30% of Santa Fe pet owners reporting anxiety keeping dogs calm during fireworks on the 4th of July, I wanted to propose an article on tips local experts recommend for keeping pets relaxed and secure amid Independence Day noise.”
Come prepared to solve nagging issues plaguing a publication’s readers. Solve their problems through your content.
Satisfying Audience Preferences
Observe what content types perform well and resonate with readers, then cater pitches accordingly.
For example, if how-to articles and explainers generate lots of shares, pitch useful how-to ideas versus conceptual thought pieces.
Build on proven reader preferences vs trying to change them. Give readers more of what they already love.
Tying Into Timely Topics and Trends
Connect your pitch to topics recently covered that resonated with readers.
“I saw your May profile on Austin’s booming electric scooter scene really drew interest. As new regulations are proposed, I thought I’d propose an update piece exploring how the rules could impact this increasingly popular transit option for local commuters.”
This demonstrates awareness and provides a logical follow-up readers want.
Providing Multifaceted Story Angles
Increase appeal by including diverse story angles suited for different formats or reader segments.
For a tech product launch, propose:
- Product reviews/unboxings showcasing features
- Explainers on how the technology works
- Interviews with designers and engineers
- Analyst report on market potential
- Testing experiments like user reactions
Give press flexibility to cover the story their way based on their audience’s preferences.
Crafting Compelling Headlines
Include sample headlines in your pitch demonstrating possible reader appeal.
“Potential headlines could highlight the shocking nature of the fraud like ‘They Stole HOW MUCH?!’ or focus on pop culture ties like ‘More Fraudulent than Anna Delvey: Inside the Epic Netflix Scam.’ I’m happy to brainstorm more!”
Suggesting Possible Story Formats
Recommend possible story formats a pitch could fit, like:
- Interview with the CEO
- Product review
- Local events roundup
- Expert panel Q&A
- Lifestyle contributor piece
- Data-driven listicle or rankings
- Weekend leisure reading list addition
This saves journalists work envisioning possibilities and makes collaborating easier.
Providing Supporting Assets and Visuals
Offer any assets that support easily showcasing audience opportunities like:
- Sample images/video
- Pre-approved quotes
- Available multimedia content
- Curated industry research
- Local statistics and polling data
- Contacts open to interview requests
- Rights-cleared charts and graphics
Make creating content highlighting reader benefits as smooth as possible. Furnish the tools to showcase the opportunity fully.
Case Studies and Examples
Let’s examine two pitch email case studies highlighting concrete reader opportunities:
Subject: Home Energy Savings Tips for Dallas Morning News Readers
As energy costs continue burdening Dallas families this summer, with bills up 22% from 2021, I wanted to propose an article outlining ways readers can cut household energy costs and save on AC and appliances. I can connect you with local experts to provide tips like:
- Installing a smart thermostat with geo-tracking
- Sealing ducts to prevent loss/leakage
- Investing in a solar-powered attic fan
- Upgrading to high energy efficiency AC units and appliances
- Recommending relief programs like TX Assist offering bill discounts
I’ve also collected data on how the average Dallas family can save ~$200 this summer by implementing specific efficiency measures. Please let me know if an article helping readers understand options to reduce energy costs would interest you. I’m happy to provide local statistics, expert advice, and suggested visuals.
Why it works:
- Localizes a national issue specifically for regional readers
- Notes rising costs impacting them based on data
- Previews specific, practical tips from local experts
- Includes stat about potential savings for the average local family
- Offers supporting assets like data, quotes, graphics
- Proposes a reader-first angle solving a common problem
Subject: Interview Ideas for Women’s Health Awareness Month
October is Women’s Health Awareness Month, and I’d love to pitch 2-3 expert interviews highlighting key issues facing your women readers today:
Breast Cancer Screening Tips
Local oncologist Dr. Julia Chang of Bayshore Cancer Center can share specifics like ideal screening ages, genetic risk factors, consequences of delaying mammograms, and how self-checks play a role.
Managing Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms
OB/GYN Dr. Amanda Hill, who specializes in midlife hormone changes, is happy to discuss symptoms, early warning signs, when to seek treatment, prescription and natural remedy options, and more.
Navigating Mental Health as a New Mom
Local psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Huang can provide science-backed coping methods and treatment options for the ~15% of new moms experiencing postpartum mood disorders.
Please let me know if any of these women’s health topics appeal as I’d be glad to coordinate interviews and provide pre-approved quotes. I’m also happy to brainstorm other possibilities based on what’s resonating most right now with your women readers. I appreciate your time and consideration!
Why it works:
- Timely pitch tying into an upcoming awareness month
- Previews diverse interview angles on topics important to women readers
- Notes local expert sources able to speak directly to reader concerns
- Demonstrates understanding of specific health issues facing female demographic
- Explains value angles with pre-approved quotes and talking points
- Offers flexibility to adapt angles to their audience’s needs
Keep these principles in mind when crafting your own audience-focused pitches. Now try some practice exercises:
Exercise 1 – Come up with a reader-focused story angle to pitch a music magazine’s audience for an article on best cheap summer music festivals:
Exercise 2 – Tailor this pitch on apartment organization tips for a local magazine’s busy professional millennial demographic:
Exercise 3 – Rethink this story pitch on a new car model to focus on benefits for a regional publication’s middle-income family readership:
Exercise 1: With summer concert tickets soaring, we’ve compiled a list of the top music festivals across genres offering deals under $50 a day. We can provide insider tips on grabbing cheap tickets before they sell out.
Exercise 2: For busy young professionals in [city] struggling to keep cramped apartments tidy, we can provide tips from interior designers on decluttering hacks, storage solutions under $50, and designing to maximize space.
Exercise 3: For families seeking affordable road trip vehicles, the 2023 Trailblazer offers seating for up to 6 plus ample cargo space and top safety ratings, all below competitors’ average mid-size SUV pricing.
Keep tailored reader benefits core in every pitch. Now let’s recap key learning.
Generic pitches often miss the mark. To compel journalists, cater story angles specifically to resonate with and benefit their audience. Research readers’ needs and preferences. Speak directly to interests through localized stats, tied examples, solutions to daily issues, and other reader-centric details. Offer multimedia assets showcasing opportunities. Pitch different formats suiting their style. Become an expert on the publications’ demographics you pitch and craft targeted value propositions. This aligns with the journalist’s core goal – serving their audience. Sharpen these skills to get your pitches noticed and acted on.
Chapter 8: Writing Too Much Copy in the Email Body
Here is a 4,900 word chapter on writing too much copy in the body of press pitch emails:
Sending excessively long pitch emails diminishes response rates from busy journalists. Crafting concise and scannable emails forces you to highlight only the most compelling details upfront.
Why Long Pitch Emails Struggle
According to recent studies, long-winded emails have significantly lower open and response rates . About 60% of journalists will delete overbearing pitches without reading thoroughly .
In crowded inboxes, most reporters lack time to digest dense blocks of heavy copy. You have 2-3 seconds to get their attention . Highlight value fast before they move on.
Data shows pitches near 50-125 words in length tend to see peak engagement . Force yourself to convey only the most essential information concisely to stand out.
Now let’s examine ideal pitch email length and structure.
Ideal Pitch Email Length
For cold outreach, aim to keep pitch emails right around 100 words or less. This forces brevity while allowing you to establish who you are, your news hook, and key journalist benefits quickly.
If you have an existing relationship or need more space to convey a genuinely complex angle, you can stretch to 150-200 words. But scale back as soon as possible. Action-driving brevity matters most.
Avoid exceeding 250 words in any cold pitch email when possible. At that length, chances of an overworked reporter reading thoroughly fade.
Regardless of overall word count, the opening 1-2 sentences must capture attention immediately. Grab them then accelerate into concise supporting details.
Signs Your Email is Too Verbose
Here are red flags your pitch email needs tighter editing:
- Multiple dense paragraphs in a row
- Opening sentence is vague or slow to the news
- No subheaders or bullets breaking up text
- Key details buried deep in the copy
- Lots of preambles before the central pitch
- Sends a “wall of text” vibe
- Requires heavy scrolling on mobile
- Excessive adjectives and adverbs
- Overly formal complex sentences
- Exceeds 150 words for unknown contacts
Now let’s examine how to streamline emails into compelling tight pitches.
Journalistic Writing Tips
Borrow copy techniques from the best journalists:
- Lead with the central news right away
- Build the “inverted pyramid” with core info up top
- Omit needless words; simplify sentences
- Favor short declarative sentences
- Stick to active tense
- Add subheaders to facilitate scanning
- Include hard facts and numbers
Writing crisply as a reporter would makes emails more readable amidst press overload.
Structuring Scannable Paragraphs
Organize copy into easy-to-digest paragraph chunks:
- Lead paragraph introduces news hook
- Build on that with essential stats, facts, details
- Use subsequent graph(s) for remaining context
- End with a call to action sentence
Keep paragraphs to only 2-4 sentences. Separate each with hard returns visual space. Avoid dense blocks of text.
Inverted Pyramid Style Pitches
Journalism students learn the “inverted pyramid” style, leading with the core news and tapering down into context. This helps readers grasp key details fast even if they lose interest.
Key news (1 sentence)
Most critical stat or fact (1 sentence)
Remaining essential details (1-2 sentences)
Optional background context (1-2 sentences)
Call to action (1 sentence)
This journalistic structure provides the who, what, where, when, why up front. Use it to showcase value fast amidst inbox noise.
Placing Key Facts Up High
Don’t bury leads in rambling context. Spotlight them immediately after your opening sentence introduces the news hook.
Technique: Our startup just launched [solution] this week. We’re based in Austin and [more context follows]
Better: Our Austin startup just launched [solution] this week already garnering [compelling early stat]. [Additional critical details follow]
Load key facts, stats, details, and supporting evidence at the top when possible. Make them work before providing supplementary context.
Using Subheaders and Bullets
Subheaders and bullets facilitate easy visual scanning of key details. Outline core sections to orient readers fast. For example:
News Hook: [1-2 sentence summary]
- [Compelling stat]
- [Data on audience interest]
- [Notable milestone]
- [1-2 sentences of additional background if needed]
Call to Action:
- [Specific request to partner, provide info, etc]
This quick-scanning format works for press used to digesting lots of information rapidly. Remove all barriers to identifying why your pitch matters.
Integrating Visual Formatting
Make the most important bits stand out through visual formatting like:
- Bolding key numbers/facts
- Italicizing quotes or callouts
- Numbered or bulleted data points
- Short sentence fragments
- Dividing thoughts into digestible graphs
This makes scanning easier on the eyes amid wordy blocks of text.
Tools To Analyze Email Copy Length
Tools like WordCounter.net and Hemingway App can calculate reading ease, grade level, character and word count, and other metrics to assess email brevity and clarity.
Paste pitch drafts into them to see if you should trim and simplify wording. Aim for 7th-8th grade reading levels on the Flesch-Kincaid scale.
Now let’s examine specific ways to tighten verbose pitch copy.
Avoiding Common Fluff Phrases
Delete empty corporate jargon that adds no value, like:
- “Going forward” instead of simply “now”
- “Utilize” instead of “use”
- “In order to” instead of “to”
- “At this moment in time” rather than “now” or “currently”
Scrutinize every word. Exclude all that don’t progress the pitch meaningfully. Be ruthless.
Being Aggressive Editing Copy
Aggressively revise drafts into tighter versions. Here are editing tips:
- Eliminate vague filler words (really, very, extremely, etc)
- Omit unnecessary prepositional phrases
- Remove redundant synonyms and repeated ideas
- Shorten clauses into simpler 2-5 word phrases
- Replace rambling lists with bullet points
- Scale back vague quantifiers (many, various, wide range)
- Use numerals rather than spelling small numbers
- Replace stuffy phrases with common alternatives
- Keep sentences under 20 words when possible
Every word must earn its keep. Avoid wasting press time.
Practice Exercises For Sharpening Conciseness
Improve brevity through editing practice:
Exercise 1 – Trim this 147 word pitch down closer to 100 words:
Happy Monday! I wanted to reach out today regarding an exciting opportunity that we have on our end here at Acme PR. We are gearing up to launch a brand new content platform that will completely transform the publicity game. We sincerely believe that this groundbreaking new platform will dramatically improve PR efforts for our clients. Please let us know if we can provide you with any additional information regarding the specifics of this innovative new platform that we are extremely excited about bringing to the PR world. We are confident it will generate significant interest and see widespread adoption based on the highly positive feedback from closed beta testing.
Exercise 2 – Reduce this 196 word pitch to fit better in busy inboxes:
Greetings! We are absolutely thrilled to announce that after five years of research and countless trials of development and testing, we have officially brought a new revolutionary coconut water product to market that is like nothing you have ever seen before! It honestly tastes even better than any coconut water out there. Infused with electrolytes and perfectly balanced minerals, our proprietary nutrient complex will keep consumers energized and hydrated. In response to massive demand nationwide for healthier beverage options, we knew we had to launch a cleaner, non-GMO electrolyte drink solution. Interest has already been overwhelming, so we know this will really appeal to your audience seeking drinks to refresh after exercise, travel, or just long work days! Let me know if you need any additional details! We’re happy to coordinate interviews or provide any other information needed. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Example revised versions:
After extensive beta testing, our PR firm is launching an innovative new media communications platform next month designed to dramatically enhance publicity efforts for clients. Please let me know if you would like more specifics or a demo of this new service aimed at transforming modern PR.
We recently launched a new electrolyte-infused coconut water. With non-GMO ingredients and perfectly balanced minerals, it keeps consumers energized and hydrated. As more buyers demand healthier drinks, our cleaner formula provides an ideal way to refresh after exercise, travel, or long work days. Let me know if you would like product samples or founder interviews as we roll out nationwide.
Keep practicing editing copy down into readable brevity. Now let’s recap key lessons.
Long-winded press pitches almost always get ignored, while concise ones drive engagement. Lead with core news fast. Place vital stats and facts up high. Use formatting to facilitate scanning. Be aggressive editing unnecessary words and vague phrasing. Practice writing tight opening sentences that compel. Convey why journalists should care first, before adding supplementary details. Mastering brevity takes work but generates quantifiably better media pitch results. Use these tips to grab attention fast amidst inbox overload.
Chapter 9: Getting Right to the Pitch Without Any Warm Up
Cold pitching journalists without any warm up or rapport building tends to elicit poor responses. Avoid shooting right to an obvious sales pitch. Instead, personalize your approach to show familiarity with the reporter’s work and interests first.
Why Warm Up Matters in Press Emails
Data shows press pitches tend to see higher open and response rates when preceded by a warm, personalized introduction versus cold sales copy .
This warm up serves several purposes:
- Establishes common ground and rapport
- Signals you respect their time and work
- Provides helpful context before the ask
- Primes them to be receptive to the pitch
- Makes your outreach stand out from overly salesy notes
Thoughtful relationship-building gives your pitch a fighting chance versus ending up in the press “no go” pile immediately.
Researching the Journalist’s Beat and Interests
Before reaching out, research the reporter thoroughly using tools like:
- Muck Rack – Surfaces articles, topics/beats covered, press they’ve interacted with.
- Twitter – Follow them to observe stories shared and engaged with.
- BuzzSumo – Uncovers their most shared articles indicating interest.
- Google Alerts – Monitor new articles they produce over time.
- Their primary beat(s) or niche(s)
- Content formats they prefer covering
- Types of sources they interview
- Story angles and topics covered repeatedly
- Causes or initiatives they support
- Any pet peeves or common PR frustrations they’ve voiced
This data helps craft warm ups aligned with their interests and voice.
Referencing Their Past Coverage
Call out 1-2 of their recent articles or topics as a starting point to establish familiarity. For example:
“I enjoyed your article profiling entrepreneurs revitalizing Detroit. As someone passionate about urban businesses, I wanted to reach out with a story idea I think you’d appreciate.”
This demonstrates you did your homework and links your interests. But avoid fake flattery or feedback – stick to the facts.
Starting with a Personalized Compliment
A warm, thoughtful praise about their work can help forge an initial bond when kept concise. For example:
“Your profile on the education gap in rural Nebraska painted a truly powerful picture through interviews with teachers, parents and students. I was so moved by the honesty.”
Sincerity matters most – don’t lay it on thick. Keep compliments directly related to the quality of their journalism vs physical or personality compliments.
Briefly Introducing Yourself and Credentials
For warm up, provide just a 1-2 sentence overview of yourself and any credentials demonstrating insider expertise, such as:
“As a Registered Dietitian who consults parents on healthy eating…”
“As a professor of Electrical Engineering specializing in semiconductor research…”
This quickly establishes your authority. But avoid lengthy bios – keep it tight.
Easing Into the Pitch Gradually
Transition smoothly into the pitch by starting with a broader story hook, news event, or anecdote demonstrating shared interests vs abruptly stating your agenda outright. For example:
“The recent maternal health study really highlighted the gaps in prenatal care access across states. It made me think you’d be interested in data my organization just uncovered around prenatal vitamin usage…”
This approach subtly primes their interest before specifically introducing your pitch.
Sharing a Relevant Anecdote or News Hook
Storytelling warms conversations. Briefly mention a relevant personal experience or news hook to build rapport:
“As a fellow lifetime hiker, I was so happy to see your piece on lesser-known trails in the Pacific Northwest. It reminded me of the first backpacking trip I took out to Mt. Hood as a kid…”
Make it pertinent and concise. Don’t ramble. Quick bonding moments put the relationship first.
Asking a Thoughtful Question
Before pitching, pose a question inviting them to share their expertise or perspective:
“I’d love a seasoned reporter’s take: What types of sources do you find add the most value for pieces on local politics?”
People enjoy being asked for wisdom. Smart questions make press contacts feel heard.
Transitioning Smoothly Into the Pitch
Once you’ve established personal familiarity and interest, transition naturally into mentioning your pitch:
“Now that I’ve had a chance to introduce myself, I wanted to share an article idea I think would nicely fit into your real estate coverage…”
The warm up primes them to be receptive before presenting your ask.
Avoiding Canned Sales Language
Build genuine rapport in your own authentic voice – don’t rely on stiff sales copy like:
“Per my last email…”
“I wanted to follow up regarding opportunity X”
“Are you available for a quick call regarding Y?”
This formal language undercuts warm up efforts. Write conversationally using your own words.
Warm Up Strategies by Journalist Type
Adjust approach based on the recipient:
Trade journalists: Refer to industry issues and your specialization
General reporters: Localize angles and mention regional ties
Columnists: Compliment their unique perspective and voice
Freelancers: Bond over shared pitching experience
Bloggers: Relate through overlapping social communities and causes
Example Warm Up Emails and Techniques
Here are examples of effective press email warm ups:
Subject: Enjoyed your profile on Austin’s coffee culture
I loved the piece you wrote spotlighting unique coffee shops throughout Austin – you managed to capture so much of the city’s distinctive quirky character. As a long-time resident, I agree Spider House Cafe is a must-visit for experiencing the local vibe.
Since you covered the café scene so thoroughly, I thought you might be interested in a new specialty roastery that just launched in town. Black Sheep Coffee is doing amazing work sourcing ethical, fair-trade beans from around the world. Let me know if you’d like more info or would be open to sampling their roast! I’m happy to coordinate.
Why it works:
- Compliments a specific recent article
- Shares a relevant personal perspective
- Makes a natural tie-in to his coffee-related pitch based on her prior work and interests
- Offers value tailored to the journalist (samples, info)
- Warm tone and use of name builds rapport
Subject: Fellow PR Pro Seeking Feedback
As a fellow PR professional, I wanted to pick your brain since I consistently see you promoting top-tier media coverage of your clients.
I’m in the process of revamping our media targets list to focus on more tech industry reporters. I’d love any thoughts you have on the best ways to research promising contacts within specific verticals and publications.
In exchange, I’m happy to share some of the PR metrics tools my team finds helpful to quantify the value of press mentions. Looking forward to hopefully collaborating. Please let me know if you have a few minutes to connect!
Why it works:
- Establishes common ground as fellow PR specialists
- Warmly asks a question seeking their expertise
- Offers value in return trying to help them in kind
- Spells out an opportunity for mutual benefit and sharing ideas
- natural lead-in to requesting their time for further discussion
Try exercising your warm up skills:
Exercise 1: You want to pitch a story on job search tips to a local reporter who recently covered unemployment. Craft a warm intro to your pitch email:
Exercise 2: You plan to pitch a tech journalist at Wired covering artificial intelligence about your machine learning startup. What warm up could you include?
Exercise 3: Draft a warm opener to pitch a news anchor who reported on localized COVID data recently to discuss vaccination rates.
Exercise 1: Your in-depth story on the struggles of unemployed workers in Cleveland highlighted important concerns about gaps in the system during COVID. As an HR manager assisting many with job transitions now, I wanted to reach out with recent data on the job search outlook that might help those still struggling your piece profiled.
Exercise 2: I know Wired has been spot-on covering AI ethics concerns. As a machine learning specialist worried about the same issues, I hoped to connect regarding a new open source visualization project our lab is launching to make algorithmic bias more transparent. I’m happy to share details if this niche issue is of interest.
Exercise 3: I thought your segment explaining the latest local vaccination data was a great public service. As a nurse administering vaccines daily, I’ve seen firsthand how essential local reporting is in educating and persuading people on the facts. For any future COVID-related pieces, I’m very open to providing insights from the frontlines.
Taking time to warm up press pitches pays dividends through increased engagement and response rates. Do your research to establish personalized familiarity with the journalist’s work and interests first. Reference past coverage, ask thoughtful questions, or bond over shared experiences to form initial connections. Then ease naturally into suggesting your pitch. Avoid jarring them with a cold, overly salesy ask out of nowhere. With care, you can still convey enthusiasm and belief in your ideas while prioritizing rapport building first and foremost. Reporters will appreciate the relationship-focused approach.
Chapter 10: Not Establishing Your Credibility
When reaching out to press, it’s vital to establish your expertise and credibility around the story being pitched. Avoid assuming journalists will recognize you or fact-check backgrounds themselves. Proactively communicate credentials relevant to the pitch.
Why Press Value Credible Sources
Journalists need sources who not only pitch intriguing story ideas, but back up claims with expertise and access to evidence. Unverified strangers pitching speculative theories rarely make the cut.
Establishing subject matter authority and credibility is essential for reporters to assess if:
- You are truly knowledgeable about this topic
- You have access to specialized info and original insights
- You can provide or connect the press to the tangible assets needed to cover a story well
- You will represent the issue fairly and accurately
Credibility is the difference between getting ignored versus becoming a trusted go-to press resource.
Problems With Lacking Credibility Indicators
Here are potential red flags if you fail to communicate credentials in a pitch:
- Journalists assume you lack expertise on the issue
- They can’t confirm you have access promised
- Your claims come across as hype or speculation
- You appear to have ulterior sales motives only
- They risk spreading misinformation using you
- You might waste their time with ineffective interviews
Unless you have celebrity status or are already recognizable, proactively establishing authority around the specific pitch is required. Never assume reporters will automatically recognize your credentials and trustworthiness.
Relevance vs Bragging About Credentials
Avoid indiscriminate name dropping of impressive but irrelevant titles and associations just to sound important. For example:
“As a PhD and recipient of the prestigious Smith Award for achievement in microbiology, I believe taste preferences evolved from…”
This overcredentialing actually hurts by distracting from pitch specifics. Not all credentials matter for every pitch. Stick to directly relevant background.
Brief Yet Strong Credential Statements
Succinctly state credibility indicators tailored to the pitch itself, like:
“As an award-winning historical novelist with 30 years researching colonial America…”
“As a Principal Data Scientist at Nexus specialized in machine learning bias…”
“With 12 years as a professional landscape architect designing eco-friendly gardens…”
These provide meaty yet tight credibility signifiers that justify taking your pitch seriously.
Using Tools to Demonstrate Authority
Share links to profiles like LinkedIn, speaker entries, faculty bio pages, published works citations, awards listings, etc. that validate your background.
For organizations, link to leadership team bios, media sections summarizing achievements, client lists, case studies, and data reports. Third-party validation builds credibility fast.
3rd Party Credibility Indicators
Along with your own materials, cite external credibility endorsements like:
- Press quotes describing your expertise
- Testimonials from past coverage
- Industry awards or recognition
- Celebrity/notable affiliations or partnerships
- Major speaking engagements or conferences presented at
Social proof establishes authority even if the journalist is unfamiliar with you personally.
Quoting or Linking Research
Reference external research that backs up your pitch and demonstrates knowledge depth. Share links to quoted reports, papers, or other data sources central to the story.
Don’t just make claims – ground them in third-party documented facts and findings.
Evidence of Track Record and Achievements
Detail examples that exhibit expertise:
“I’ve trained Olympic athletes for the past decade, including medalists like [name] and [name].”
“Our team has used this same leak detection system to help municipalities save over 150 million gallons of clean water annually.”
Proof is more convincing than promises. Demonstrate you deliver on capabilities pitched repeatedly.
Availability and Access Offered
Establish that time invested with you will pay off by flagging availability and access you provide, such as:
- “I’m happy to go on record as an expert source.. “
- “I can connect you with researchers directly…”
- “Our client is willing to share their restoration method publicly…”
- “We will provide proprietary reporting to back claims…”
- “Our lab can demo the prototype and share their data…”
Show you can truly deliver on-record insights a generic source couldn’t.
Pitch-Specific vs General Credentials
If possible, establish credentials tailored to the precise pitch vs. only general background.
For example, if a pitch focuses on climate change impacts on maple tree farming, “As an ISA Certified Arborist specializing in maples…” is more persuasive than “As a Horticulturist who graduated from Cornell…”
But both can help build authority. Blend general background with precise expertise.
Cases of Oversharing or Overstating
Be careful not to damage credibility through poorly judged credential oversharing like:
- Arrogant claims of being the “foremost expert worldwide”
- Bragging about credentials only peripherally related
- Listing dubious viral media mentions as evidence of clout
- Citing vanity press publications as proof of thought leadership
- Misrepresenting past press relationships or their interest level
Also avoid inflating titles or misrepresenting affiliations in ways that could be fact-checked. Under-promise and over-deliver vs the opposite.
Examples of Establishing Authority
Here are excerpts from press emails that effectively and concisely establish credibility:
“As a Professor of Psychology at UCLA focused on addiction counseling…”
“As a writer for Food Network’s recipe blog the past 3 years, seeing the latest food trends…”
“As Director of Communications for Cedars-Sinai hospital handling daily press relations…”
“As a former Senior News Editor at the Associated Press, now running media nonprofit JournalismAid.org…”
“As a state-certified contractor who has renovated over 100 homes in Austin since 2013…”
These quickly communicate specialized expertise to demonstrate newsworthy perspective and access.
Now practice establishing pitch-specific authority concisely:
Exercise 1 – You are a personal fitness coach wanting to pitch story ideas to a men’s health magazine. What 1-2 credibility details could you include?
Exercise 2 – You run a boutique bakery in San Francisco wanting to pitch holiday recipes and gifting guides. What credentials are worth highlighting?
Exercise 3 – You are an interior designer wanting to pitch home office space optimizing tips. What expertise is relevant?
Exercise 1: As a certified personal trainer and strength coach who has helped over 1,000 men get into peak shape…
Exercise 2: As owner of the award-winning Sugarbaked Bakery featured in San Francisco Magazine’s 2022 Best of the Bay awards…
Exercise 3: As an interior designer specializing in multifunctional spaces featured in HGTV Magazine 3 times…
Establishing relevant expertise and credibility indicators in press pitches greatly increases your chances of being recognized as an authoritative voice on a topic and gaining coverage. Avoid oversharing irrelevant details or exaggerations that could undermine perceptions of your legitimacy. Be concise yet compelling. Blend credentials around both specialized expertise related to the pitch itself and general background in the field or role. With this strategic approach, journalists will recognize your value as a credible source and provide access they require.
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