What is a media pitch?
Simply put, the definition of a media pitch is an attempt to get a journalist/editor or media outlet interested in your news so that they decide to cover it.
Almost always, a media pitch is done by email, but it’s also possible to do it via social platforms, telephone, or traditional mail.
Why pitch the media?
Ultimately, the goal of pitching the media is to get your story picked up and covered by the media. For businesses, this can be a great way to get publicity, increase brand awareness, or influence the perception of your brand.
In the long-term, a media pitch can be the beginning of building valuable media relations, making it easier to get coverage in the future.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to pitch the media and how to write an effective media pitch email.
- Why it’s worth taking the time to craft a good media pitch
- Make sure your story is newsworthy
- Make sure you’re pitching the right people
- How to write a media pitch
- 7 Media pitch examples from real PR experts
- 3 sample methods of writing a Media pitch
- How to follow up your media pitch effectively
- 3 things to avoid when pitching the media
Why it’s worth taking the time to craft a good media pitch
Journalists and editors and flooded with press releases and various other demands on their time and attention. Based on research from Fractl, 46.5% of journalists receive at least 11 pitches per day, while 28.64% receive over 26 pitches per day.
It’s perfectly understandable if they need to formulate ways to filter out the vast majority of them with rules and guidelines for quickly determining what’s worth a closer look and what isn’t.
That’s why knowing how to write a media pitch is absolutely essential to getting free media coverage.
Following a few basic guidelines to package your story properly and present it in a journalist-friendly way can dramatically increase the chances of connecting with just the right platform to amplify your message.
Knowing what to include in a media pitch (and what to leave out) will get much better results when you’re trying to get press coverage.
Here are our proven tips for effective media pitches that get results.
Make sure your story is newsworthy
If you want to get someone to cover your story, it’s worth asking yourself these two questions before you even think about writing a press release:
- Is my news actually newsworthy?
- Is my news presented in an exciting way that people will get people interested?
If it’s not, it might be worth waiting until you have something that actually is newsworthy, or you could make a bad first impression with the media contacts you send your press release to.
What makes a newsworthy story?
According to socialmediasydney.net.au, you should consider the following:
- Is the story new and current?
- Does it feature an element of prominence?
- Does it evoke an emotional response?
- Will your story affect or have an impact on certain people?
- Is your story relevant to the area/publication you are pitching it to?
Amber Mac, entrepreneur, and bestselling author sums this up perfectly:
“The fact that your company exists or your CEO will be in town does not make a story.”
Make sure you’re pitching relevant media contacts
Before writing your media pitch, you should first prepare a relevant media list, which is a list of people that could be interested in covering your story.
In the media, individual journalists have their own specializations (referred to as a “beat”). Instead of sending your press release to the general email address of a news outlet, it is best to address it to the person most relevant to the subject you’re writing about.
Example: If you’re a business that’s launching a new tech product and you’re reaching out to a magazine like WIRED, you’ll find out that every reporter there has their own specialization, such as drones, cell phones, or cloud computing. Find the most relevant person for your story.
What if your list of relevant media contacts that that could be actually interested in your story is lacking—or even worse—empty?
Prowly’s media database lets you find relevant media contacts, from a database counting over 1 million journalists & media influencers. It has free search access for 7 days, so you can try it yourself and see if it’s worth paying for.
How to write a media pitch
A media pitch is composed of two main elements – the subject line and the email body. While it’s the actual message that’ll get someone interested in your story, you first need an effective subject line to get your email opened.
Subject line – get their attention
The subject line is potentially one of the most important elements of your pitch email. If your message doesn’t get opened, your chances of getting coverage are zero.
Fractl’s study found some other interesting things to keep in mind when writing your subject line
- 75% of publishers prefer subject lines under 10 words
- 99% of publishers are against “clickbait” subject lines
- 70% of publishers don’t want to see CAPS, emojis, or exclamation points
- 66% of publishers want you to indicate a standing relationship in your subject line
- 80% of writers said they would like to see your content title, a key statistic from your study, or a clearly defined pitch in the subject
Be aware that most emails are now read on mobile devices, which cut subject lines having more than 35 characters. Their screen resolutions are different, which makes it impossible to hit one sweet spot, but you should try to keep your subject line within 7 words and avoid words longer than 7 characters.
Protip: With PR outreach tools you can find out which subject lines work best for the people you’re pitching. Of course—not everyone is the same, so you can tag people appropriately, e.g. “prefers short and concise subject lines” or “likes a humorous subject line”.
To sum up—keep it short, make it emotional, and arouse curiosity without making it look spammy.
Email body – the actual “pitch”
There’s no one single way of writing an effective media pitch. There are, however, a few things you should keep in mind:
- Keep it simple and short: nail your pitch in the opening paragraph. It’s ideal when it consists of no more than about 150 words, accompanied by a link to the company/product…
- … but on the other hand, explain the basic concept behind the product without making too many assumptions about the editor’s knowledge – the journalist may not be as familiar with your particular subject area as you are;
- Convey enough information;
- Offer fresh news, features, and insights;
- Take time to get to know the editor you pitch, their beat, what they are interested in and the types of sources they look for. Remember: the only way to get journalists’ attention is to HELP them: notice what journalist covers – the story has to be useful for them, so pay attention to what they need. If you don’t know what it is, don’t hesitate to ask and help them get it, as fast as you can;
- Let them know that they have the possibility of an exclusive. Ask them if they could quickly review it: it’s fine if they are not too keen on it or don’t reply within a couple of hours, it just means you can then offer it to the next publication in your list.
Remember to tailor the message so it’s relevant to the news you’re trying to share. For example, if you’re pitching about a new product, you can try to include information such as:
- Why is it worth writing about this particular product?
- What are its unique features?
- How will it contribute to the consumers’ lives?
- What makes it different from other products?
- Can you somehow compare it to the products offered by your competitors?
- Does your product come in different varieties and sizes?
- Is there a formal product launch ceremony?
Whatever your topic may be, adjust accordingly. Remember to write your pitch in a way so it presents your news in an interesting way that the journalist will want to write about.
7 Media pitch examples from real PR experts
To give you the best media pitch examples, I reached out to various PR professionals. What we received in return were real examples of their favorite media pitches that have gotten them press coverage.
Some information has been blanked out for privacy reasons.
The following media pitch examples were re-created in Prowly’s media pitching tool, which lets you find relevant media contacts, effectively send email pitches with personalization, analytics and other features. Try it free for 7-days here.
Rudi Davis, Chief Operating Officer @ NetPositiveAgency
The first media pitch example is from Rudi, COO of NetPositiveAgency.
Rudi leverages the expertise of his client and offers expert insights on the topic that reporter coverages.
Instead of preposing just one topic, Rudi gives the pitch recipient to choose from three in-depth topics, increasing the chance of success.
Mary Brynn Millburn, Senior Public Relations Coordinator @ Idea Grove
This second media pitch example from Mary Brynn Millburn shows the importance of offering value. Take note how the reporter is offered expert commentary and fresh information from the CEO of the company hoping to get coverage.
Sarah Jenne, PR Specialist @ Idea Grove
In Sarah’s example, she takes advantage of the fact that she’s previously connected with this specific reporter, reminding him/her of their already established relationship.
Ana Casic, responsible for media relations and PR @ TalentLMS
Ana Casic from TalentLMS send us this media pitch on remote work. She started the conversation by mentioning already published articles on the same topic, and offered new & original research (offering value!) that could be used for a new post.
Matthew Zajechowski, Outreach Team Lead and Content Marketing Promotions Specialist @ Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing
Similar to the previous example, Matthew’s media pitch is another example of giving value by offering an original report on a topic that was newsworthy at the time.
The results? Over 250+ unique placements all who’ve linked back to this page for this campaign using this specific pitch.
Corinne McCarthy, SEO & Online PR Specialist @ Web Talent Marketing
Here is a media pitch example that earned a placement on CNBC’s website (cnbc.com) for a client of Web Talent Marketing.
The writer we pitched ended up connecting us with a reporter at CNBC. The reporter interviewed our client’s Content Manager. A few weeks later, CNBC published a feature article about the career path we pitched and quoted our client throughout the article.
Corinne added that the key elements of this pitch are:
- Addresses the writer by name twice so he/she knows this is not an automated email.
- Mentions a recent article that relates to the topic you’re pitching.
- Includes a brief description of the angle you’re pitching and why it’s relevant to the publication.
Rachel Nelson, Public Relations & Events Manager at Margaux Agency
The last media pitch example from Rachel Nelson offers value by offering valuable content that could be useful for a new article that’s not only original, but also exclusive.
3 sample methods of writing a media pitch
Search for media pitch templates on Google and you’ll find an endless amount. Here are my favorite methods that you can use on your own:
Method #1: The short & concise method
Probably the easiest one, but often the most time-consuming—to make your email look authentic, it should never be based on the copied & pasted parts of your press release.
You should write your email from scratch, include all the key information (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?) and throw in 1-2 quotes used in the press release (if possible).
Such an email is basically a condensed press release, allowing editors to start working on the piece of news right after reading the email body.
Method #2: The bullet method
Some time ago, we’ve asked our fellow editors about their favorite formats of email pitches they get from PR people. One of the PR Week (UK edition) editors said that what works best for him is a short message with three-four bullet points presenting the key details about the news.
Example of a media pitch using the bullet method:
Reason? Such amount of space is enough for him to decide whether he wants to run the story or not; if you’re unable to engage a journalist using such a short form, chances are they won’t be interested in reading the entire press release.
I admit that if I had a choice, I’d love to receive all my emails written in a similar manner. It may not be easy and quick, but it’s sometimes worth to try and write down even your biggest announcement in the form of a three-bullet list.
Method #3: The all-in-one method
It’s good to try this method, especially if your recent click rate is rather disappointing and you want to make sure your media contacts have read the whole news.
The main part of the email body should include one or two paragraphs containing the so-called “meat”—the essence; the key details and info that should win the journalists’ attention. Next, after your standard email ending (“Regards, John Smith”), paste your press release text into a clearly separated section.
This way, most editors who open your email will also see the full story (useful when you can’t measure how many people opened the attached/linked material).
How to follow up your media pitch effectively
Even if you did everything correctly, there’s a chance you won’t get a reply. It makes you start wondering:
- Did the journalist get my email?
- Did it get opened or was it lost in the sea of other media pitches?
- Was my pitch so bad that it got posted online for everyone to laugh at?
Just kidding. Journalists are busy people; it could be that they were simply busy and didn’t get to checking their inbox yet.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t mean you should move on just yet.
How many times should you follow up your media pitch?
As a general rule, you shouldn’t email someone more than three times in a row without success. If you subtract the first email, that leaves you with two follow-up attempts for your pitch. Give at least a few days between each email.
Protip: If you’re using a PR outreach tool like Prowly to pitch media contacts you can view which recipients received, opened and clicked on your email. This lets you easily segment your follow-up message in to groups and tailor your message based on if they’ve opened your email—or not.
When you do follow up, keep in mind the following:
- Be polite; respect the fact that a journalist may not be interested in your story
- Be concise and to the point; keeping the above point in mind, politely re-ask if they’re interested or if you can provide any extra details
- Be prepared – if you do get a positive reply make sure you have any extra information they might need or a flexible schedule if they’re like to interview you for more details
3 things to avoid when pitching the media
#1: Not proofreading your post
One of the quickest ways to get your pitch deleted is to include spelling or grammatical mistakes. Or misspelling the journalist’s name.
For many journalists, it’s a sign that you didn’t put in the effort to even proofread your pitch.
And with free tools like Grammarly, there’s really no reason why your media pitch should contain any errors.
#2: Not getting to the point
Following the rules for the length of your press release should make it easier to check this box on your list but it’s worth repeating—you don’t need a lengthy introduction before getting to your point.
No one wants to be kept in suspense while you slowly get around to the news you want to share. The very first sentence of your press release should clearly state the reason for your announcement.
Sure, sometimes the addition of a little context is necessary to help clarify things and a few details can always help draw a better mental picture when needed. But remember that you can always tell the full story later after you’ve opened a channel with an interested journalist.
The press release is supposed to communicate the head-turning, “wow” part of your message at a glance. It’s the takeaway that will get attention like a screaming headline from someone just scanning through the news.
#3: Including attachments in your email
Avoid attaching anything to your pitch if you can. Attachments are a bad idea because:
- It clogs up journalists’ inboxes
- It can lower the chance of your email going through
- Nobody likes receiving attachments from people they don’t know
A smart solution is to paste or press release into the email and upload any media to a site like Dropbox.
Protip: Better yet, use a PR outreach tool like Prowly where you create a press release with images and other multimedia and simply link to it from your pitch.
Knowing how to write an effective media pitch and send it to the right people is an effective way to get free media coverage and publicity. Keep these things in mind:
- Have a newsworthy story; offer fresh news, features, and insights
- Send your pitch to relevant people in the media that cover a beat related to what your news is about
- Include an interesting subject line that’ll get your pitch opened
- Add key information to your pitch and keep it short and concise – if the journalist is interested they’ll ask for more information
- If you don’t get a reply, politely follow-up in a few days
And that’s it! If you’re ready to send a pitch out to the world I recommend giving Prowly a try – it’s free for 7 days.
Find relevant media contacts for your news and pitch them right from the app with a tool made just for pitching the media.