8 key things to include when pitching your press release
Pitching to the media is not always easy, but there are ways to increase your chance of success.
An effective media release all comes down to research, preparation and a targeted pitch.
You’ll notice that last point I mentioned was a targeted pitch – this goes against the traditional approach of PR, but times have changed and therefore our approach needs to change too.
If you are a small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) the media is likely not going to go out of their way to cover your story. So you have to do something to tip the balance in your favour. One way to do this is to make it as easy as possible for the journalist or editor to use your article.
News is now a 24-hour cycle, which means media outlets are always on the lookout for content, but they also have an overwhelming workload. So it stands to reason that if you make their job easier by pitching something that is not only relevant to their audience, but clearly created just for them, you increase your chances of getting published. This is the exact opposite of the old-school approach, which is to create one press release and then mass-mail it to all the media outlets on your database.
Success of a press release is never guaranteed, but my below tips will hopefully give you an added boost.
Have an (actual) hook
The ‘hook’ is industry jargon for the subject matter of the press release that gets your attention. This can often be a hard one, because what you think is interesting a media outlet may not! So you have to step back and be objective when considering your hook. Media organisations want their article read – particularly online, because that increases their click through rates!
Write a killer heading
Whilst media outlets may change your heading, thinking creatively about your heading is the first step in getting your pitch email opened by the journalist or Editor. Like all of us, their inboxes are likely very full so you need to stand out from the crowd. You may well have a different email subject line to your heading, but make sure both are interesting.
Ensure you have relevance to their target audience
I mentioned previously that mass-mailed press releases are an old-school approach to PR and not nearly as effective a personalised approach. The down-side is more time and effort from you, but the benefits should outweigh this, with you tipping the scales in your favour. You need to look at your media database and determine which ones are more likely to run your story. Then you can demonstrate your research by personalising your email to the media outlet. Include your contacts’ first name and the reason this article is suitable for their target audience.
Write using their style
This one is a little harder, but with a little research it is doable. Do they use first names for quotes or titled last names? How do they present date formats? How do they present their quotes? Do they have long or short headings?
Use a spokesperson
Providing quotes from a spokesperson within your article gives it some personality and authority. This is also a great way to get more subjective content included, as it is attributed to a person. When a journalist or editor runs your press release they want to be able to appear objective, therefore any flowery language will frequently be cut, unless it is said by someone else.
Provide an image that is pertinent to the article
These days the vast majority of articles have an image with them so it is in your best interest to provide an image. The best images are those that are original – so something you have had taken for your organisation. It could be a photograph of staff, or a product, a location, a publication, an event – the options are endless! Remember to always caption your image and attribute it to the photographer if required. If you don’t have something original another option is to use a stock image, but please take your time and pick something that is professional, has not been used a million times before and presents your company in the best light.
Provide logo files
When you provide your press release and photograph it is also a good idea to attach your logo as well. Online media outlets will sometimes include a logo at the base of their story – but even if they don’t at least they now have it on file.
Include online links
Following on from the above, many media organisations will include link in the online version of your story. Provide all your online links, but also embed them as part of your media release, if appropriate.
And do you know the benefit of undertaking all of the above? You become an easy pitcher. What do I mean by this? I mean the editor, journalist or blogger likely had to put in a minimum of effort to run your article, so in future it is likely that your pitches will be looked upon favourably and they may even seek you out for comment or contributions.
There are never any assurances that your press release will get a run, but by following these tips you’ll definitely be on the right path!
My article first appeared on Leaders in Heels