This post originally appeared on Newswire.ca
Here are 6 common pitching myths—and the truth behind them:
Perhaps one of the biggest myths in PR; your news release is not your pitch. A pitch should clearly and concisely highlight the story angle that may be of interest to a journalist. By all means, if your pitch contains information that is elaborated upon in your release, include a link to your news release on newswire.ca for further information. Linking to a newswire release allows a journalist to verify that you and your story are legitimate.
Your pitch needs to be tailored to a specific journalist. Nothing is more irritating to a journalist than receiving pitches that have absolutely nothing to do with any story they would ever cover.
Do your research and craft your pitch to align with the journalist’s beat.
Yes, newsrooms have gotten smaller and journalists are working with less resources and tighter deadlines and they’re receiving more pitches than any other time in the history of the universe, but rest assured they read as many as they can. Sarah Boesveld, senior editor at Chatelaine magazine said in a recent interview, “I want to apologize to all the PR professionals whose emails I do not answer. I am very grateful for them and my radio silence is NOT personal!”
To grab attention, PR professionals must adapt each pitch they send to meet that journalist’s needs, which means research and unique story angles. Building media relationships is also important, as journalists are more likely to read messages from a PR professional they know and trust. Consider meeting a reporter for coffee with no agenda other than getting to know one another or by share some love on social with an RT or acknowledgment of their latest piece.
Don’t forget to leverage the power of the newswire. We also hear from journalists that they use CNW’s newswire and website to validate news tips they receive by email from people they don’t know. If it’s on CNW, they know you’re legit and that the news is safe to report on. Rest assured that the newswires are always being watched. “If a news release is on the newswire and it’s important, we won’t miss it – it’s monitored,” said Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press. So use your pitch to present a story angle that the journalist might not have considered when reading the release on the wire.
If you are considering using a newswire service, be sure to check out this post to help you find the best service provider for you.
According to PR Daily, just don’t send attachments. It is time consuming to open large attachments, could be considered spam, or could contain viruses. While the majority of PR pros know not to send them, many still continue to do so. Your pitch should be clear and concise and if you need to reference your news release don’t attach it – instead link to it in the body of the email. If a journalist requires high res imagery or additional information, they will ask for it.
While many believe that a follow up phone call is necessary after sending a pitch, this is simply not the case. In fact, it can often have the opposite effect and be detrimental to your relationship. Journalists simply don’t have the time to take phone calls. A scheduled call with a journalist is completely different but sporadic “just calling to check if you got my email” calls are not appreciated.
Had someone follow up a pitch just in case it was lost “amid the Prince news.” Let’s go crazy, indeed.
— Shane Schick (@shaneschick) April 22, 2016
“Don’t call to see if we’ve received your email. If we’re interested, trust us, we’ll call you. And, our interest tends to diminish commensurate with every subsequent email and call about it,” said Dawn Walton, Managing Editor at CTV Calgary.
Expressive language and eloquent product descriptions do not belong in your pitch. While these may be sound and look great, keep them for your corporate blog or marketing materials; your pitch should be factual.
“Stop saying everything is innovative or revolutionary. Be factual. Be focused”- Saleem Khan, Digital news pioneer and independent technology reporter
Give journalists solid, factual reasons as to why their readers should know about your brand.
“The art of writing a subject line is important. Tailor it to get their attention.” – Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington, Travel & Style Magazine. Your subject line is your first opportunity to catch the journalist’s attention and make an impression. It should appeal to them and make them want to open your email to read your pitch.
The journalist ultimately has creative control over their story. The story may be about your brand or company, but when the piece goes to press, it is their story. Asking a reporter to see the final story before it is published, is a huge no-no.