How to Correctly Pitch a Press Release to Journalists
After constructing a well written press release comes the hard part—pitching it to journalists who may be interested in covering your story. Press releases are formal announcements of company news used to inform local media groups. The goal of sending a press release is to get media coverage for your company’s event or launch. Even the best press releases can get glossed over if they aren’t pitched properly, so it is important that you follow these simple steps.
Catch their attention in the subject line
The best way to pitch a press release is by email. The subject of the email should cover the topic of your press release in an attention catching way. You may even want to include the name of the journalist you are pitching. This shows that you did your research and aren’t sending your story to a mass list of journalists. It is also helpful to include the event date and product or event type. For example, don’t write “Biker Cloth launch,” instead write, “Biker Cloth launches T-shirt line for motorcyclists in December.” The date tells a journalist whether they need to prioritize the press release, while the company name and product type tells them whether it is a topic they are interested in covering.
Create a brief, compelling, and personal pitch
The very first lines of the email are the most important. You will either grab their attention or you won’t. If you think the story is the most compelling aspect of the email, begin with that. Include an appropriate greeting that directly addresses the journalist by name. Introduce your story in the most compelling way possible. Follow with an explanation for why the story is important to the local community, then explain why you thought they personally would be interested in the story. Attach your press release in the email, but know that your pitch will determine whether they click to open it. Your press release should be one page maximum.
Don’t use any fancy fonts or formatting. Also, don’t send an email that looks copied and pasted. The email should flow and it should also be personal. If you know the journalist, adding a personal touch will be easy. If you don’t, you can build a relationship with the journalist by commenting on a previous piece they wrote that relates to your story.
Create an angle
Yes, the press release matters to you and your company, but why should the local community care about it? What is in it for them? If there is no human interest aspect to your piece, it won’t get picked up. That is why you must create an angle that clearly demonstrates why the press release is of importance. Your angle can capitalize on a conflict, the impact of the piece, or the novelty of the product or event.
Pitch to the right people
Only pitch to media groups that would be interested in your story. If you are a small local business, it may be a bit far reaching to send your press release to a multinational media outlet that has never heard of your business. As a small local business, your focus should be locally owned media groups like The Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa, I Love the Burg, and the Tampa Bay Business Journal. If you have a media outlet in mind, visit their website and create a list of journalists that cover topics similar to that of your press release. If you place the press release in the hands of the correct journalist, your chances of media coverage are much greater. They can create an angle the media group will go for and pitch the story in the next meeting.
Always send a press release in a private message. You don’t want to broadcast your press release to everyone on a journalist’s timeline. It is highly unprofessional and highly likely that they will not consider giving your story coverage. In addition, never CC multiple journalists in an emailed press release, rather send the press releases individually. Journalists want exclusive stories. They may not run with a story they know multiple media groups are potentially covering as well. Finally, don’t send the same press release to multiple journalists who work for the same company. Coworkers talk. Once they find out everyone received the same email, your email will find its way to the trash folder.
Give a good lead time
Send your press release to journalists in advance of the launch or event. Although you’ve provided them with the most important information, they still need the time to conduct their own research and verify that the information you’ve provided is correct. They may also need to clear their schedules in order to attend the event themselves. Don’t pitch too early or your story may get shelved and forgotten.
Follow up over the phone
Journalists are busy people and may not respond right away. Not to mention their inboxes are filled with story ideas and press releases from people with the same intentions as you. To make sure that your press release doesn’t get ignored like the rest, give the journalist a call. You are much more likely to get a response over the phone than through email. This gives you the opportunity to pitch your story and fill in any of the blanks they may have. Make sure to pitch all the key details. Your phone pitch should be just as conveying as your written one.
If you’re having trouble constructing a press release, read our previous blog post: How to Write a Press Release Journalists Will Read.