It’s just not fun getting your emails ignored
Picture this scene: You’re a journalist who gets 300-600 email pitches a day, each one with an eager PR professional on the other side of the cyber wall waiting (possibly desperately waiting) for your response. There is clearly no way that you can open all of these emails, let alone respond to them.
Back to your job as a PR professional. Now, there’s obviously no one superlative way to get a journalist to respond to the pitch that you wrote. (I mean, unless you’re pitching some kind of app that hacks into email automatically and mentally hypnotizes every journalist). But what you can do is follow these tips stemming from an open discussion with Mashable’s Alex Fitzpatrick (which fellow Fusionite Allie Tedone and I were lucky enough to take part in) the next time you sit down to write that pitch.
Do your homework — Never underestimate a journalist’s knowledge and pitch facts about a topic they’ve written about. If you’re pitching them on something that falls into their beat, it’s safe to assume they’ve also read Google News and know what’s up. This means you don’t need to go into detail about issues they are already familiar with, instead you can present a new idea or angle for them to approach the subject. Now, if you’re pitching something that doesn’t fall under the journalist’s beat-then please, stop doing that. It’s a waste of their time and your time.
Definitely follow up — Journalists get a lot of pitches, I wasn’t exaggerating when I said 300-600 (that’s what Alex’s daily inbox looks like) there’s just no way that they’ll catch all the fine pitches coming their way. If you have something that you think is really appropriate for a specific journalist, you should definitely send a follow up email. Alex said he doesn’t mind when a PR person follows up 24 hours later with a quick note checking in asking if he saw the pitch. Now, if you have something golden that you know the reporter would die to see, only then do you make that phone call.
Email over calling — It’s important to keep the generation of your journalist in mind. Millennials aren’t known for their love of gabbing on the phone; so most PR pros and journalists these days prefer to email a pitch and follow up with email, rather than skip ahead to the phone. If you call a journalist and pitch them something irrelevant or while they’re on a deadline, there is a good chance the next time they see you name in their inbox, they’ll completely ignore you (just saying…).
Stop with the adjective overuse — Most PR professionals know better than to use words like “revolutionary” or “thrilling” when describing their client in a pitch. Alex even quoted a line from To Kill a Mockingbird which says, “To find the truth, delete the adjectives.” There’s just no need to over pepper your pitch with adjectives. Keep it simple, your client’s prowess should speak for itself.
Light the fire a bit — If other publications picked up your story, there are instances where it very well might be worth it to mention that. It demonstrates that you have a story people want to read about, and legitimizes the news; something especially relevant for tech journalism. This usually works best if, for example, your product was covered on the radio or broadcast outlet and you are pitching it to a print journalist.
Friendliness is cool — If a journalist does cover something after you pitched it to them, do send a (short) thank you note. They might not respond, but they’ll appreciate the kindness! Alex also mentioned that unless people often tell you you’re a huge creep, it’s fine to send a tweet or email to a journalist mentioning an interest of theirs that you noticed on Twitter. (To the huge creeps reading this: ignore this tip).
Be brief — Shakespeare said it first, “Brevity is the sole of wit” and it remains true in regards to pitching. Be as brief as you can be, keeping your initial pitches to under two or three paragraphs. MuckRack’s automated pitch sending system even limits pitches to 300 characters, something to consider when you send over a pitch that could double as a 1,000 word essay.
Don’t pitch in the AM — Timing actually is important. Alex mentioned that when he comes into the office, he spends the first half of his day catching up on the news and writing articles. Only after lunch does he really sit down and dissect his inbox. Keeping Alex’s workday in mind, it would be best to email him after 2pm, when you know he’d be focused on reading emails and notice your beautiful pitch sitting right there with its great subject line.