How’s your pitching? Are you reaching the most relevant media contacts in the right way? Or perhaps your relationships with journalists never seem to fully develop? One man who knows what a successful pitch looks like is Ben Titchmarsh, head of media and marketing at Propeller Group.
We spoke to Ben for our white paper – Media Relations in 2018 – and he revealed his top pitch tips for the modern PR.
1. Know your sector
Ben says: ‘Never underestimate the power of reading constantly and really immersing yourself in the sector you’re pitching to.’
There’s no point starting your pitch until you know your industry inside out. That means knowing the company you represent, its place in the market and any major trends that could affect the company or its clients. With a holistic view of the industry you’ll be able to provide rich and varied content to journalists who are, themselves, experts in the field.
2. Personalise your pitch
Ben says: ‘Always personalise your messaging because journalists can tell if you’ve mail merged. I tend to make a shorter media list and personalise every line of the message.’
This should be a given but it’s clear some PRs (surely not readers of the Monday PR Club) are still aiming for quantity over quality. The short-term aim of your pitch may be to secure coverage, but you should really be focusing on the long-term goal of building a fruitful relationship.
Ben’s advice for anyone struggling to personalise a pitch is: ‘For subject lines, I would write ‘Hi [name], story for publication – [story title]’ and then in the first line I would reference another story they’ve done that was similar to my pitch.’
3. Write like a journalist
Ben says: ‘If you’re writing a press release, try to write it as a news story, which includes using the house style of the publication you’re pitching to.’
Journalists are overworked and understaffed; most don’t have time to take a template press release and turn it into a news story that fits their publication. If you write in the house style and lose unnecessary elements (for example LOCATION: DATE at the beginning of the release, and sales speak in the copy) it makes it much easier for the journalist to use your content.
4. Don’t hold the gold
Ben says: ‘I was once told that with an email pitch, you should imagine you have 100% of their attention for the first line, 50% for the second, 25% for the third, 12.5% for the fourth etc. That’s true, so don’t hold the gold; put what they need to know at the beginning.’
Your email may be more exciting if you tease a build up to what you’re sending but for a journalist, they may not read all the way to the pay-off. Again, they’re understaffed and overworked – don’t be too clever in the pitch, just make it clear why what you’re pitching is a great fit for them.
5. Make it exclusive
Ben says: ‘There’s also a benefit of scarcity with journalists – they love an exclusive. They will always google the story to see if it’s elsewhere, so if you say it’s an exclusive, mean it.’
If the same story is appearing in multiple publications then all you’re doing is making those outlets compete for audience share. And if the story has already appeared elsewhere, you’re making a publication play catch up. Obviously, it’s not always possible to make a story exclusive, but when you can – and when the audience is right – use it to your advantage.
Find out more about media relations in 2018, including relationship advice and how this affects the GDPR, by downloading our white paper here.