Seven Tips for a Striking Publicity Pitch

Social media has forever altered the way in which people communicate, says Gini Dietrich in her Vocus webinar, State of the Media Report 2014. People no longer wait for traditional outlets to deliver news; they find it themselves. They then visit traditional news sources to confirm the news is true.

State of the Media 2014 Newspaper

Traditional outlets have noticed the trend and are implementing digital. Many reporters use social media in much the same way that some people use police scanners: they skim social news feeds to find stories and sources. In addition, they use social media to engage with readers and to promote their work.

Here are three ways reporters have started adopting social media:

1. Research

Journalists use social media to monitor their competition and newsworthy events on a local, national and global scale. When they monitor competition, they do aim, according to Gini, to “scoop” stories. Their main priority, however, is to find interesting topics, story angles and sources.

Social Media - Research - State of the Media

2. Engagement

Journalists also use social media to engage with their readers. They don’t have to wait for op eds to know what their readers think; their readers let them know directly (sometimes vehemently) on channels like Twitter. Those interactions benefit reporters. They may hear points of contention, but they may just receive new information that builds upon the published story or leads to the writing of a new one.

Social Media Engagement - State of the Media 2014

3. Promotion

Many journalists receive compensation for increased page views, so they are deeply invested in promoting their work. Not only that, they want sources who can help with promotion. The end result isn’t merely monetary compensation; promoting the work provides journalists with more readers, potential sources and new story topics.

State of the Media Report - Pitching

By doing the following, PR professionals can use those three elements to increase their chances of having a pitch accepted:

  1. Cultivate relationships through social media. Social media will move media relations faster, but time is still required. As Gini says, “Media relations hasn’t changed. We just have different tools at our disposal.”
  2. Use email to make your pitches. Most journalists don’t want to receive pitches on social because they fear being scooped. In addition, they often prefer to have a reference archive, a thing that is difficult, if not impossible, to create on social.
  3. Make visuals a part of your pitches. Some news outlets make visuals the responsibility of their reporters, many of whom don’t have the time or the skillset to produce quality images. If you have the ability, say that you will accompany an accepted pitch with images or video.
  4. Pitch radio stations with clients who have large social followings. Radio stations have joined the digital era and are looking for ways to integrate social into their programs. If you believe radio would benefit your client, pitch radio stations. It’s a win-win for both parties.
  5. Offer research that supports or contradicts trending news. If you have a reputable source, share it in your pitch. Journalists are just as skeptical as the next person when it comes to receiving a pitch about a trending news item. They need and desire evidence.
  6. Use multimedia in your pitches. This point is similar to number three, but multimedia offers even more options. Multimedia can be used as “behind-the-scenes” content or be repurposed for other stories and online spaces.
  7. Help promote stories by sharing them with your network. If a journalist you wish to pitch writes a story with applicability to you or a client, share it. Similarly, if your pitch is accepted, share the finalized piece with your own networks and on your client’s. The journalist and your client will thank you.

Gini says the current state of the media is just the beginning. Traditional and digital will continue to merge, resulting in experimentation with digital in general and native advertising in particular. Mobile will also take on a more pivotal role and make news simultaneously local and global.

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9 Tips for Writing Great Pitch Emails to Journalists

Lately, I’ve been receiving pitches directly from business owners and from people who may not totally understand that there’s an art to writing a good pitch email and that there are several things that should be considered way before you ever press send

Things like is this the right reporter for my story?, is what I’m pitching newsworthy?, is this the right platform and audience for my story?, and the list goes on.

Once you’ve taken these things into consideration and have written your pitch, make sure you’re hitting all of the 9 points listed below to ensure that your pitch leads to a story and isn’t deleted on sight.

Here elements are needed to make a pitch email successful and know when you need to go back to the drawing board.

1. A Great Subject Line Gets Your Emails Opened
In order for your pitch emails to successfully lead to a story about your business, they need to be opened and read.  Which is why having a great subject line can make or break your pitch. Great subject lines are consise and descriptive and give reporters a preview of what’s inside.

Here are two examples:

Bad Subject Line: Product Launch/Review
This is an actual subject line from a recent pitch email I received. If this was sent to a blogger or journalist who has hundreds of unread pitch emails in their inbox, it would probably get deleted or buried under new messages because nothing in the subject line makes you want to open the email.

This subject line also leaves too many questions unanswered: What brand or company is behind this product launch? Do I care about this brand? When is it launching? If it’s not launching soon, can it wait?

It’s this last question of ‘can it wait?’ that is the kiss of death for most pitches.

Good Subject Line: PITCH: Essie’s Fall Polish Line Launches in November, Samples Available for Review

This is a great subject line because it tells a reporter exactly what they can expect to read inside the pitch email. The name of the brand is stated immediately, so a reporter can decide if it’s something they want to pursue right away. The type of product is listed, which can help a reporter determine if it’s relevant for their audience. The launch date of the new product is clear, which can help a reporter decide if it’s something that should be prioritized and the mention of samples also helps increase the urgency of the pitch and gives the reporter an idea of what type of story they could write.

2. Keep Your Pitch Brief
Keep your pitch short and concise and make sure you are clear about what you want from the reporter in the first few sentences. If you’re pitching something that is complex and has supporting materials, include a link to more information or make it clear that more information is available. Don’t just stuff it all in one email because this will turn a reporter off.

3. Avoid Adding Attachments 
Like I mentioned above, if you have hi-res images or other information that supports your pitch, include a link to the information or indicate that it is available upon request. Attachments can increase the size of your email which can slow down a reporter’s computer or transmit viruses.

Making additional information “available upon request,” is also a great trigger point for reporters to contact you if they are indeed interested in what you’re pitching.

4. Introduce Yourself
This seems like a no brainer, but so many people neglect to include this information when they’re pitching a reporter or blogger for the first time.

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Most Effective Techniques for Blogger Outreach

5. Include and Repeat “The Ask”
“The ask” is what you want the reporter to do with your information (ex: request samples, interview you or another executive, write a story on a specific subject, consider including your product in a trend story, etc).

I try to include “the ask” twice in pitch emails, once at the top and again at the bottom right before the close. And I highlight this information by making the text bold.

6. Is Your Pitch Relevant and Timely?
In your pitch, make sure you explain why it’s relevant for the reporter’s audience and why they should write the story now and not a year from now. You can establish this connection by referencing how your pitch builds on a story the reporter wrote in the past and you can establish timeliness by giving an exclusive or connecting your news to something else that is happening at the same time.

7. Never Make Assumptions
To be on the safe side, include all of the pertinent information about your product or service in your pitch.

8. Provide Story Ideas
Is your product or service part of a growing trend? Would your product or service fit into a holiday gift guide? Should your expert be interviewed about a particular topic? There are many more examples, but if the answer is yes to to any of the above questions, you need to clearly spell this out so that the reporter who is reading your pitch can begin to form an idea of how they can turn your information into something useful for their readers.

9. Anticipate and Answer Any Questions in Your Pitch
Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes. Have you given them all of the information they’d need to write a story? If not, go back and add in whatever you missed.

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10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy

“Never write more than two pages on any subject.”

After tracing the fascinating story of the most influential writing style guide of all time and absorbing advice on writing from some of modern history’s most legendary writers, here comes some priceless and pricelessly uncompromising wisdom from a very different kind of cultural legend: iconic businessman and original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy. On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write” and found in the 1986 gem The Unpublished David Ogilvy (public library):

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize,demassificationattitudinallyjudgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

[RELATED: 7 Tips to Becoming a Good Blog Writer (Even if You’re a Bad Writer)]

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7 traits of press releases that actually get read

I wince at 99.99 percent of the press releases I receive daily.

That’s because 99.99 percent look like sloppy cut-and-paste jobs that have nothing to do with the Daily Fix and its readers, and everything to do with the sender, the sender, and, oh, right, the sender. Reading a press release that doesn’t make me wince is rare—though not impossible.

Now and then, I receive press releases that are smart, audience-focused, brief, and interesting. So, for this week’s post, I thought I’d stay on the sunny side of the street and share seven traits about press releases that do get read:

1. A zippy email subject line.

The email subject line often sets the tone for the email I am about to skim. A subject line that captures (positive) attention is one that highlights the main focus of the article and why readers should care about that focus. Remember: The subject line isn’t a last-minute addition to your emailed press release. The subject line is the friend that will either get you into the party or get the door slammed on your face. Treat your friend well.

[RELATEDLearn to master the golden rules of PR writing at our PR Writers Summit.]

2. A decent greeting.

Personalization would be fantastic. A “Hello, Veronica” beats a “Hi, There” any day. (However, my expectations are real, and most days, I receive emails from people addressing Victoria, Valerie, Vanessa, Sir/Madame, Blog Editor, Admin, Editor, Veronicaj, and Jarski.) Any greeting that shows that the sender did take time to read the guidelines for blog submissions or to understand the Daily Fix audience puts me in a good mood right away. So, when writing your press releases, take time to think about how you will address the reader.

3. Clean, crisp lines.

I receive myriad emails that have the greeting in a tiny font and the rest of the piece in a larger, bold font. Sometimes, the emails are in different colors or fonts. Clearly, my name was swapped out in a form email. I don’t expect people to handcraft every email to me, but, sheesh, at least don’t be obvious about sending a form letter.

A fantastic press release doesn’t look like a press release. Instead, a fabulous press release looks like a quick, interesting email from someone who knows his stuff. The “official” press release (if it really has to be included at all) is an attachment or added to the bottom of an otherwise intriguing email.

4. Well-written summary of what’s up.

An elevator pitch is the best kind of pitch. For the digital world, imagine your elevator pitch is a tweet. Just tell me quickly and briefly why the news your about to share matters. What’s your point? And why should I care about it?

5. Bullet points.

Bullet points make for an easier, clearer read. Also, they demonstrate whether the author knows the most important details of the press release. If someone can’t write brief bullet points about their content, that person does not know his content. If you write good bullet points, you’re also very quotable, which is always a plus.

6. An invitation to talk more.

One of my favorite endings to any email or press release is: “If you’ve any ideas of how this can be a better fit for the Daily Fix, please feel free to email me.” I love that line. Those emails respect the reader’s time and also demonstrate a willingness to create content that better suits the audience.

7. A shareable piece of content.

Remember when we were kids who attended birthday parties and received little goody bags? A good press release makes you feel like you’ve received something fun and captivating. So, when writing a press release, be sure to include information regarding where to get additional content for the readers. For example, a good press release will mention a related infographic available for download, a downloadable whitepaper, or even a cartoon or photo of the newsworthy event.

Remember, when you’re writing a press release, you are writing for a person, not a building. If you’re really stuck on how to approach that person, imagine you’re writing for your neighbor, who knows nothing about your business and will end the conversation if you get too long-winded or boring. Always write for people.

Article from MarketingProfs