PR Pitch: 3 Elements to Create a Winning Pitch

Every day, reporters and other media gatekeepers are inundated with press releases, emails, and social media messages, each one vying for attention. When a brand is part of that massive submission blizzard, they need a way to stand out. But how? Is there a sure-fire way to know you will get the attention of the right media gatekeeper at the right time?

Well, nothing is entirely foolproof and there are no guarantees, but there are a few steps that, when put into consistent practice, will certainly increase the odds of a release getting notice and not getting permanently shelved.

Craft a competent and compelling introduction

Politeness counts, but it’s not nearly enough. Everyone is polite when introducing themselves to someone they need something from. Politeness alone won’t get a communicator noticed, as competency matters a lot more. This includes an introduction that takes into account the reporter or gatekeeper’s preferred method of communication. It also includes understanding what the reporter is looking for. 

The basic rule of thumb is: communicators should not approach an introduction concerned only with what the reporter can do for them. Instead, they should consider how they can provide something the reporter or gatekeeper needs. Craft an introduction from that standpoint, and it’s more likely to be well-received.  In addition, it’s a good idea to be very clear on how and why the reporter should trust the source on the relevant topic. Are they an expert? Do they have unusual insight on the issue or topic at hand? 

Once the relationship is established, then it’s time to consider the kind of submissions the reporter is looking for. 

Place the story in a relevant context

How is the story going to be reported? How is it connected to issues that the reporter’s audience will care about? These are vital questions that should be answered before the release is sent. If the reporter doesn’t immediately see the obvious relevance to a compelling context, something vital is missing from the press release.

Communicators need to be brutally honest with themselves on this point. What, exactly, makes their story special? What is the interesting angle or story that will make the audience want to interact with that content? Is there an element of “new” or “special” or “controversial” about the story? What about the story will cause the audience to stop and take notice?

Always be timely

The news industry is not interested in waiting. Deadlines are constant, and they are unforgiving. Miss a deadline, and the reporter will feel that the communicator may be an unreliable source. Remember that blizzard of press releases. Media gatekeepers don’t have time to deal with people who can’t or won’t hit a deadline.

Timing is important for other reasons as well. Consider what’s happening in the news cycle and what has happened recently. If a story is relevant to something else going on, it gets moved higher in the stack. If not, it gets pushed further down, unless it is absolutely ground-breaking. So, when sending a release to a media contact, consider the timing. Some stories could always be a good fit. These are called “evergreen,” and they may get held for a slow news day. Others have specific relevance to an event or a cycle, and these gain or lose value based on how close they are to the context in which they are most relevant. 

When these three elements are used as fundamental guidelines, and a release is clear, contextual, and compelling, the odds are good it will get noticed.