Pitching the Press – Or the Art of Getting Noticed

Ann Voorhees Baker
Ann Voorhees Baker

written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Ann Baker

The delete key on the average reporter’s laptop keyboard is usually pretty well worn down to the nub. Why? The answer is simple: bad subject lines. You can write the best pitch in the world and still never get contacted if your pitch subject line is boring, overused, or as out of date as a hair-jelled polyester pick-up line.

Journalists receive hundreds of responses to the requests they post on notification services such as HARO, sometimes within the space of a few hours. To deal with the sheer volume, they scan subject lines at lightning speed. This means that you have a couple seconds to grab their attention – and if you waste it, you lose.

So, how is this done? The trick is to make your subject line unique, relevant to the journalist’s request, and interesting. Let’s look at this step by step:

The ‘unique subject line’ is one that shows that your pitch has been tailored specifically for the opportunity. You could show this by simply copying in the original language of the journalist’s request – but think of how many other cookie cutter subject lines you’re competing with. Chances are the journalist will satisfy his or her requirement with the stand-out pitches before ever bothering to read yours.

Example Request: “Seeking interesting eco-friendly business owners in Colorado.”

Here you’re presented with a great opportunity for you to send a ‘punchy’ response. The journalist wants to be interested by your company or back story, so you have some flexibility in how you can respond.

Example Pitch Subject Line: “One time Colorado farmer now sells furniture made out of highway signs.”

Now, relevancy. For more on this check out my earlier article on pitching on topic .

And finally, make it interesting. This doesn’t just mean snappy or eye catching, it means showing the journalist that you “get it.” You understand that he has an article to write and your job is to make it easy for him to do it, preferably using your business as content. If you’re intelligent, on topic, interesting, and to the point, your pitch has a very good chance of surviving the quick-trigger delete.

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