Learning how to pitch a story idea to an editor is one of the most important skills a modern marketer can possess. Every business can benefit from media attention in order to drive traffic for subscribers and sales. There are several best practices for pitching that everyone should master.
What is a pitch?
A pitch is a writer’s summary of a potential story to the editor of a newspaper, magazine, or blog. It is usually sent via email these days, though some marketers and some editors might still work over the phone.
All editors are on deadline at some point each day or week and are always on the lookout for content they feel sure their target audience for their publication will benefit from. They are busy people, though, so your story pitch should be respectful of their time and needs. It also needs to stand out from the dozens of other pitches they get. Here are a few ways to accomplish this.
1-Do your research
Know the publication, who the audience is, who the editor is, and what they have published recently. Think about stories that can either give a different point of view to what they have already published or one that is an all-new story they haven’t covered before. This shows you are familiar with their work and know their audience.
It is also important to find out what their editorial calendar is. For example, many magazines start to put together their holiday issues as early as June, to hit newsstands in October and November. Will your story still be newsworthy by then?
Also be certain you have the right editor for your pitch. Don’t just grab any name and assume that if they are not interested, they will pass it along to the right editor. If in doubt, call to ask. There can be more than one editor for a section of a large newspaper. Get the names, but only pitch to one at a time so there is no confusion.
2-Make sure it is newsworthy
It is great to launch a new product or service for your target audience, but make sure your story pitch focuses on facts, not hype.
3-Personalize the email
Do NOT send out a generic email. Address it to the editor and make sure you spell their name right.
3-Write a great headline/subject line for the email
Editors get so many emails, this is really the only way you stand a chance of getting yours opened. A good headline will pique curiosity and make the editor eager to learn more.
4-A hook or angle
This also helps draw the reader in, by offering a special perspective on the topic.
5-A summary of what the story is about
Keep it brief and focused. You don’t have to tell the whole story, either. Leave the editor wanting more.
6-Include your credentials
Give a brief history of yourself, the company and/or the CEO to help show you are an expert in your niche or industry who is worth paying attention to.
7-Offer additional material
Offer images and video to support the story. Provide a download link.