Know your client inside-out, back-to-front
Nothing screams “unprepared” like questions you can’t answer, about the client you are pitching. Make sure that you’re well-versed in who your client is, what their story is, what their values are and why they’re worth featuring.
Spend some time reading up about your clients, and making sure that you have pre-prepared answers for the more common questions you may get asked.
It can be really tempting to get excited about working with a client you love, and promising them the world. We love a motivated PR, but you must be realistic when setting and managing expectations with your client.
The last thing you want is to promise them things you can’t deliver – so be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot.
Know the journalists you're pitching to, what they like, what they don’t like and what they've featured before
This can seem like a really obvious bit of advice, but it’s also one that gets far too overlooked in the PR industry. How many times do you stop to speak to salespeople on the street? Consider this to be a similar issue.
Journalists can receive over one thousand (1,000) pitch emails every day. If you’re not even bothering to do your homework on the person you’re hoping will give your client some press coverage, why should they care what you have to say?
With Instagram and Twitter, it’s so easy (nowadays) to really understand who you’re pitching to. It can be deemed very lazy if you don’t, when really it only takes one Google search to find out if they’ve just Instagrammed from Morocco or Uzbekistan.
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Know the section you are pitching into, and why your story will work for that publication
Along similar lines of knowing your journalist, you should also know enough about the sector you’re pitching into. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you end up pitching something entirely irrelevant to a journalist who isn’t covering the topics you need.
Write an engaging press release that stands out
But how do you make a press release stand out? We know you could be writing a dozen of press releases a week, so how do you keep them engaging, interesting and relevant?
What makes a press release really stand out, is the value it’s bringing to the journalist themselves, or their audience. Has your client got a really sweet backstory that will play on the emotions of the target audience? Is your client doing something incredible for the planet, or helping a group of people? Has your client released an extremely innovative product that is sure to revolutionise the lives of certain people?
Don’t be afraid to use exciting language to pique the interest of the journalist you’re pitching to. But a word of caution – don’t overdo it. Nobody likes clickbait.
Don't underestimate an attention-grabbing subject line
Not to be confused with clickbait. Following our previous point, you have to make sure that your subject lines scream (not literally) “you absolutely want to read this”. This will take some work from you, to figure out what your targeted journalists care about and are writing about.
Make sure you have all the images and information ready ahead of pitching, this minimises journo chasing
We could argue that this is simply common sense. You want this journalist to want to promote your client, so why wouldn’t you have everything ready ahead of the pitch? You definitely don’t want to fall into the “unreliable PR” books of the journalists you care about, so why take the risk?
Avoid sending blanket emails
We’ve all been there, sending the exact same email to dozens, if not hundreds of contacts. It’s fairly standard practice to use distribution tools to send out mass emails, but it’s also very nice to feel like the email you’ve received was meant for you.
How many times have you paid attention to an email that starts with “hello dear”? The use of one’s first name is not only expected, but is also polite. Including a quick personalised greeting, where appropriate, goes a lot way as well.