Tips for Writing Pitches That Get Picked Up by Media / Journalists

Two simple steps to make your next media pitch a home run!

A disgruntled email from a journalist got my attention today. The writer – a prominent tech writer and blogger (one that any tech PR person would kill to have write about their product) – had forwarded a pitch email he received, along with some complaints.  The pitch itself was well written, succinct and compelling.  It had, in fact, caught the eye of the journo, who took a minute to open the message.

The message consisted of the pitch, which promoted a product launch, and included the full text of press release announcing the launch.  And therein lays the problem. 

Provide a Twitter-Friendly Post

“I tweeted this,” the journalist noted. “But I had to do more work than I should have had to.  PR Pros should make things easier for journalist-twitterers.”

He made a good point.  The 2009 PR Week/ PR Newswire Media Survey revealed that journalists are busier than ever, contributing content to offline publications and online blogs.   As their time becomes more precious, smart PR pros can gain visibility for their messages by helping journalists operate more efficiently.

Start by including a ‘tweetable’ headline in your pitch that includes a shortened URL to the full press release or product description.  Remember, both the headline and shortened URL must fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit so that anybody looking to post the information can do so with a simple copy and paste. 

Creating a condensed URL is an easy process.  Websites such as tinyurl.com and bit.ly are two of the more popular services in the Twitterverse for automatically creating shortened URLs.  PR Newswire also offers a similar function via a TwitThis button that can be found on all press releases hosted on www.prnewswire.com.  

Developing the ‘tweetable’ headline is more of a subjective practice that becomes easier as you get more familiar with how best to communicate on Twitter.  In many cases, simple editing, such as removing pronouns or certain ltrs frm wrds, can do the trick.  However, sometimes you may just have to be more direct in your descriptions to accommodate the space requirements.  Twitter may be good for creating buzz, but it is definitely not a place for eloquence. 

In the same complaint, the journalist also pointed out that the pitch was lacking another key element that would have increased the chances of snaring a reporter’s attention. The product – a cool personal technology gadget – was described but not illustrated.   The release – and the pitch – was plain text. The journalist wanted more.

Add Appeal with Visual Content

“With something so visual and given the capabilities of today's Web and email, (a) shouldn't we be well past the usage of attachments and (b) shouldn't press releases be multimedia (include photos and even maybe video when it makes sense),” he wondered. “When will the PR industry catch up to 2009?”

Multimedia news releases are actually a growing facet of communications, and from PR Newswire’s internal analysis, we have found that releases with multimedia get more attention than their text-only counterparts.  When we looked at our own internal data, we learned that, as a whole, multimedia news releases significantly outperformed text releases in terms of both visibility and engagement scores, as measured in our Visibility Reports

  • 82% of multimedia releases generated a higher average Total Visibility Index (TVI) score
  • 94% of multimedia releases generated a higher than average Engagement Index (EI) score

Making releases ‘tweetable,” and adding an image or multimedia to your message are easy and effective ways to increase results and visibility.  PR pros today need to think beyond their traditional pitches and audiences, because audiences are behaving differently, sharing and re-publishing information they find interesting among their personal networks – which is exactly how viral distribution of a message starts.

Failing to recognize the opportunities social media provides – and neglecting to make it easy for your audiences to share your content – will limit coverage opportunities, as journalists and bloggers pressed for time look for easy-to-use messages that offer the complete package – text, images, video and social media components.  A little thoughtfulness and a few keystrokes can make your message stand out in today’s crowded field and make all the difference in your campaign’s success.