When was the last time you wrote a pitch letter to the media?
Yes, we – entrepreneurs, big businesses and nonprofit organizations – can successfully and directly publicize our news and events via social media, which offers immediate engagement and response.
But your followers – consumers, publics and influencers – are still tuned into and enjoy radio, TV, newspapers or magazines in their traditional media forms and complementary online presence. Your fans also follow totally online news sites, media, blogs, radio and TV that welcome on-target pitches.
As a citizen journalist, you can post your news directly on social media. However, when you want to attract the attention of an editor, journalist or producer (“gatekeepers” to your audience), you must know how to approach them…because they want to hear from you.
Pitch Letters – Think Targeted
Before you write a pitch letter, review your organization’s newsworthiness as well as current and targeted publics. Have you achieved an important goal that a specific audience can relate to? Do you have a local hook on national news? Do your company’s activities and goals reflect national or global trends? Are you introducing a product or service that solves an ongoing problem?
You may write several pitch letters to different media on the same subject, but each letter should be personally addressed to a specific editor and reflect your understanding of that medium’s content, audience and approach.
Pitch Letters – Approach like a Pro
Generally, you will send your pitch letter via email. Here’s what journalists say about their emails:
- Your subject line must be newsworthy, not cutesy. The journalist’s fingers are hovering over the “delete” key; cutesy gets deleted.
- Your email message’s first sentences must grab them with newsworthiness and connection to their specific audiences…or “delete.”
- You can open with a one sentence “case study” example that reflects benefits, or open with quick facts/figures about the subject, or start with “last week, your radio station discussed such-and-such, and here’s follow-up your listeners will want to know,” or other relevant newsworthiness .
- Limit your email message to about four substantive paragraphs and stay totally focused.
- Write in a professional business style: do not use smiley faces, @this and @that, abbreviated words, and check your spelling, grammar and punctuation (or you’re deleted).
- Offer relevant links and resources to help journalists cover your story: Facts & Figures, Q&As, Bios, news release, video, visuals.
- Provide contact information, and be available.
Pitch Letters – Resources for You
Pitch letters can result in rewarding coverage and opportunities, and here are resources that will help you develop and write yours.
For samples of pitch letters and more information on approaching the media, check these out:
- Bill Stoller’s PublicityInsider.com, http://www.publicityinsider.com/pitch.asp
- The Public Relations Writer’s Handbook…The Digital Age, 2nd edition, by Merry Aronson, Don Spetner and Carol Ames.
To clarify the difference between a news release and a pitch letter: News Release v. Pitch Letter on my Reaching the Media: Newsworthy Notes, Releases & Letters page at: http://www.sallychapralis.com/pr_media.htm
When your letter results in a media interview, review: “1st Person Public Relations and the Interview” at http://sallychapralis.com/blog/?p=276
Keep us posted.