Last week, while I was swamped doing media pitches for a new product announcement, my colleague handed me an article from PR Daily to read for our weekly staff meeting discussion.
I usually put off reading those articles until ten minutes before the meeting, but for some reason, probably because I desperately needed a break, I put down my keyboard and picked up the article.
Titled, “Business journalist explains the perfect pitch,” the article contained some great tips on how to write a compelling pitch to get the journalist’s attention.
The most important thing I learned from this article was to captivate the reader by leading with current news trends or a question, and that the best pitches don’t introduce the client until the end of the first paragraph, sometimes the end of the entire pitch.
That was a revelation to me. I’ve been writing pitches for 20 years and I’ve always adhered to the rule that you need to put your client’s name right up front—if not in the headline then for sure in the first sentence.
Since it was Friday afternoon of a very long and hectic week, and I’d not been having much success with my current pitch campaign, I thought, what the heck. The press release contained a great customer quote, so I started my new pitch by laying out the industry issues my client’s new product solves, then presented the customer quote, which supported how my client’s product helped the customer solve his problem. Although my client’s name was mentioned in the quote, I never directly introduced the client until the last line of the pitch, where I offered the VP of marketing for a pre-briefing.
I chose one editor who was important for me to reach but who had ignored previous emails. I held my breath and hit “send,” then closed down and headed home for the weekend.
On Sunday evening I checked my email before going off to bed—imagine my surprise when I discovered I had received a reply from my experimental pitch requesting a briefing.
With 20/20 hindsight, when comparing the new pitch with the old one, I can see that journalists looking for something exciting to write about would be more attracted to a subject line and opening paragraph that hands them the news instead of being forced to read several paragraphs to try and discern what the interest is for their readers. Further, it was much more interesting to write the second, more creative pitch than the original cookie-cutter one.
Of the many advice articles we share among each other at DJA, this will be one I’ll remember and use over and over.