If anybody has had to learn quickly what it takes to write a meaningful, informed pitch – it’s me. When I was first hired at NRPR Group at the beginning of the year, I came on as the Digital Marketing Manager. I didn’t formally study public relations in college, nor did I have much previous experience in the field. My background was in journalism, business and marketing, so I was excited to contribute to the company in a more internally-facing, branding capacity.
Fast forward just a few short months, when I found myself faced with my first pitch assignment. I had never written a formal pitch before, and I was certainly nervous about getting it right. Thankfully, though, I had spent enough time with NRPR Group to understand the pitch process, and I had definitely gotten a good grasp on what each of our clients were on the quest to accomplish. As an added bonus, I had spent each day surrounded by the best team in the game, and the peripheral experience of hearing about and sometimes reviewing their pitches gave me the confidence to get started on my own.
Over time, my pitch assignments increased significantly, and because of my training, I am proud to say I’ve helped secure some big media hits for our clients. We’ve all continued to learn what composes a great pitch, but we really cannot beat the tried-and-true NRPR Group’s “Best Practices for Pitch Writing,” which we are happy to share with you today.
1. Select Your Target. This must be done carefully and thoughtfully. NRPR Group holds a strong “no blast” policy when it comes to pitch writing — which means no generic, lazy or un-personalized pitches will ever leave our emails. We’ve been taught by our agency founder to read and research the work of the people we want to pitch to ensure they really are the right target. I’ve been able to feel confident about every pitch I’ve sent out, because I know every single email has a reason to reach and interest that reporter. This process starts well before the the pitch is even crafted. We’ve learned what our target’s beat is, what they enjoy writing about and why our proposed story idea would be a perfect fit for them. (We can probably even identify how many pets they have). And if we aren’t 110% sure, we ask. We’re humans, and we know that the media are humans, as well. If we think we have a great idea, we politely offer it up and ask for thoughts / feedback. Not a good fit? No sweat! We know our pitch was thoughtful, informed and helpful, and we respect the fact that it just might not be the right angle at this specific time.
2. Write Your Pitch. Now that the perfect target has been identified and we’re well-read on their past work, we can start writing to them. We always open with an organic, friendly greeting, but we also remain mindful of their time. Making your point as efficiently as possible and telling them only what they need to know is key. Never bury the lead and make sure the meat of the pitch is right up top. Practice the Five W’s: Who, what, when, where and why. Clearly communicate to your contact why you’re writing them, what you’d like to offer them, who your great expert resource is and why it/he/she would be a great fit for their work. If you can’t clearly explain those points, you might need to do a little more research and strategizing before you’re ready to hit “send.”
3. Engage in Conversation. Once you’ve explained to your contact why you think your client and/or story idea would be a great fit, make sure you ask them what they think. Communication and collaboration are always two-way streets. While you’re working to earn media coverage for your clients, you must remember that the journalist or reporter on the other end also has duties to fulfill: to their outlet, to their readers and to themselves. They possess industry insight and experience that can also better inform your clients, should those journalists feel comfortable picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting. So always remember to politely ask their opinions, insights or preferences. Showing you care (not just about getting a story placed, but also about the journalist’s work) will go a long way in building meaningful media relationships!
4. Link Back to Assets. As your pitch should be brief to honor the reporter’s time, it is a great practice to provide easy opportunities for them to find extra information if they want to learn more. By hyperlinking to your client’s website, recent announcements and/or to the Company’s executives’ LinkedIn pages, you show the reporter that you’re ready and willing to help however you can.
5. Craft the Perfect Subject Line. This can be tricky, because everyone seems to have a differing opinion on how to do it right. Truth be told, the most important things to consider in crafting a subject line really boil down to: (1) does it catch your target’s attention, and (2) does it explain what is provided within the email? You can definitely have fun with subject lines, but in the end, you’ll want to make sure those few words really lure them in and make them want to read your message.
I’m proud to say that now (well into my eighth month at NRPR Group), I turn in pitches on a daily basis for several clients! I loved the fresh challenge of writing pitches, and I was thrilled by the opportunity to learn a new skill and expand my capabilities. While I will always love my internal marketing duties, I have a newfound appreciation for the killer PR pros out there who craft beautiful, powerful pitches on a daily basis. It’s truly an artform, and I continue to look for ways to learn more and improve my own storytelling abilities. At NRPR Group, I’ve learned that when you work in any part of the PR, marketing and social media industries, you need to be an eager chameleon capable of learning, adapting to and stepping in wherever you’re needed to get the job done for your clients.
Do you have any tips for writing the perfect pitch that weren’t mentioned above? We’d love to hear more! Share your tips in the comment section below and stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest news from NRPR Group by signing up for our bi-monthly newsletter, HUSTLE WITH A CONSCIENCE!