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    7 SF Publicists on Tips for Crafting Pitches

    When crafting a pitch for media, where do you start? What’s your first thought? Maybe it’s, ‘Who will I target?’ or ‘What lead can I use to draw the reporter in?’ Or perhaps you prefer to write the story first, get the words down, and edit afterward. 


    Based on our countless conversations with PR professionals and journalists, there isn’t one right way to craft a media pitch. However, a few tips can help improve the writing process and your email open rate.


    At our latest OnePitch event in San Francisco, we asked, “What's your top tip for crafting pitches?” and seven SF publicists chimed in with their thoughts. 


    Connect with the story behind your pitches


    Although it may seem obvious, before you pitch a journalist, ensure you are “sold on the story” you’re trying to “sell.” Trevor Herrinton, Public Relations Coordinator at Zoox, recommends that PR pros “find the why” behind your stories. A pitch that doesn’t emphasize a good story or have a direct correlation to a publication's audience will likely not entice a journalist.


    In our recent Coffee With a Journalist episode, Melissa Daniels, senior reporter for Modern Retail, shared the same sentiment. Melissa explains why it's crucial for a publicist to be genuinely excited about their client's work to ensure their pitch strikes a chord with reporters and their readers.


    [0:13:27] MD: “Tell me a client roster. Who are you working with? Who's doing exciting things that you're excited about? If you, as your publicist, aren't excited about what your client is doing, there is no way my readers are going to care.”


    Explore a journalist's coverage and interests


    Now that you’ve solidified your story, avoid mass pitching or sending the same pitch to each journalist. Bryanna Walley, Senior Account Executive at Gravitate PR, recommends reading a journalist’s past stories to gather a solid idea of what they cover. 


    Spend some time looking into the journalist’s author page. Check out their bio, their latest coverage, and their social channels. You may discover something unique about how they position stories and what angles they focus on for their beat. It’s great to start your email by showing you did your research. Don’t be afraid to mention that you saw their coverage or connect to something they’ve mentioned in their bio or latest social post. 


    Your research may uncover that the journalist recently covered something similar to your story, so they might not be looking for another source. If that’s the case and they still seem like a good fit, you can wait to pitch them or try a new angle. Consider ways to provide more value, such as additional or alternative data, or a new source for their next article.


    Adjusting your pitch to align with a journalist will become much easier once you've gained a solid grasp of their stories and interests.


    Break down the components of your pitch


    Once you’ve gotten a sense of the journalist's writing style and interest, it’s time to craft the pitch. Katrina Froelich, Senior Account Manager at af&co., recommends keeping your emails “short and sweet.”


    You risk diluting your story's relevance to the journalist by including too much information in your pitch. They may lose interest before reaching your call to action. To prevent this, ensure you’re clear about what you’re offering — a source, product/demo, or new data.


    Above all else, Jaz Zulueta, Account Associate at Highwire, emphasizes, “keep [the pitch] human.” Engaging the journalist with your story is crucial for establishing context and delivering your story effectively. Olivia Morley, senior agencies reporter at AdWeek and Chris Hager, EVP at Crenshaw Comms, agree that PR professionals can efficiently capture journalists' attention and present an easily digestible story by prioritizing a concise yet captivating pitch.


    Use subject lines to your advantage


    Cathrine Roque, Account Associate at Highwire PR, believes that the body of the pitch is not the only focal point for the journalist. Catherine recommends keeping “your subject line catchy,” as it will be the first thing a journalist sees when your email lands in their inbox. Even though your story might be great, the subject line shapes the first impression. 


    Nevertheless, remember that catchy does not mean fictitious. Ensure your subject line is transparent and reflects your email’s primary purpose. If it’s an exclusive story, clearly indicate that with “[Exclusive].” Similarly, if you have a relevant source or data, include “[Source]” or “[Data]” in the subject line.


    Recognizing that reporters are not always ready to utilize your information immediately is also important. They may save your email for later consideration. Crafting a subject line that is attention-grabbing enough to prompt them to open the email and is easily memorable or clearly labeled can help journalists reference it later and utilize your pitch for a future story. 


    Give yourself enough time to review


    The advice from Whitney Jencks, Public Relations Manager at Zoox, regarding crafting pitches? “Let it sit; marinate and come back to it.” 


    When we’ve been staring at our writing for too long, we overlook minor errors or details that need adjustment. Revisit your work another time with fresh eyes. Make sure you give yourself time to proofread it before sending it out. You never know what you might miss or want to change. 


    According to contributions made in the LinkedIn article, “How can you proofread your work when tired or distracted?” many users agree with Whitney’s suggestion. 


    The article provides various ideas to help you step back: "You can take a short break of 10 to 15 minutes or a longer break of an hour or more, depending on your schedule and preferences. During your break, you can do some physical activity, listen to music, meditate, or chat with a friend.”


    Send pitches that can help connect you with reporters


    As a final tip, Zapporah Turner, Senior Account Executive at TEAM LEWIS, is in support of “making [pitches] more conversational” as it’s “easy to follow [a] client lead, but best connections are those you establish not with the subject matter.” 


    Do you proactively engage with journalists to ask them what sources they’re looking for? Or invite them to an event, coffee chats, or talk about the industry on the phone?


    While it’s easy to send client information to a journalist and wait for a reply, cultivating real relationships with journalists is another effective approach to enhance your pitching strategy. Doing so will make you more aware of a journalist’s preferences and what they need, making your client-focused pitches more recognizable and impactful.




    Building relationships with journalists and understanding how they prefer to be pitched is vital. Podcasts like Coffee with a Journalist give you exclusive intel into hundreds of journalists and their top tips for PR professionals to land stories.


    If you're looking for tools for guiding your outreach and follow-up strategy, tap into our arsenal of tools to make pitching the easiest part of your job. Create a profile and try it out for free today!


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