Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don't Let Your Pitch End Up in a Ditch

Pitch letters serve one purpose -- to get the journalist interested in your story. Think of it as a tasty appetizer before a great meal.  
    Here are a couple of pitch tips....

1. Read the publication you are pitching.

2. Know what the journalist's topic is and how the journalist writes. Humorous stories about personal exploits may be right for a features writer but not the business editor.

3. Comment positively on some aspect of their story so they know you’re familiar with their topics and formats.  One of the top complaints from journalists is being pitched stories by people who haven’t done any research on what they cover.  “I read your piece on ______” or “I enjoyed your show on ____” is a great way to start a media pitch.  Do that, and your pitch will stand out from the pack.

4. Focus your pitch and keep it concise. Go A to B.  Stay on track; Delete the unnecessary adjectives, adverbs and over-blown hype.

5.  In a written pitch, make sure your facts, grammar and punctuation are correct.  Remember --  spell check is not necessarily your friend. These mistakes distract the reader and make them question your credibility.

6.  Personalize the salutation in your communication.  "To Whom It May Concern" or "Hey, Buddy" not so good.  Dear Bill or Mr. Smith is okay. Best not to be overly friendly. 

7.  Make sure your client - or you if you are doing the DIY PR thing - is available for comment. If the journalist calls, answer! If you don't they will move on to the next person or story.

8.  Be confident. Know your pitch inside out. You don’t want to get caught "flat-footed."

Hope this helps. Feel free to add any other Dos and Don'ts.