9 Tips for Writing Great Pitch Emails to Journalists

9 Tips for Writing Great Pitch Emails to Journalists

pitch email tips, media relations, public relations
Use these tips to keep your pitch emails from ending up in the trash.

In my dual roles as a publicist and a lifestyle writer, I send and receive a ton of pitch emails every week.

As a result, I know what elements are needed to make a pitch email successful and I know when  you need to go back to the drawing board.

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.

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.

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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  • Arsha

    After searching online on how to pitch to journalists, I stumbled across this article. It was by far the best of the 10+ I read. I was struggling with writing the subject line and formulating the call to action (the ask). It’s difficult knowing what to write as to not come off pushy (or cheesy), but since Sakita is a journalist, I trust her judgement, Thank you!

    • MissSuccess

      Thanks so much for the comment Arsha! (And for the record, I’m a publicist that writes. 🙂

  • Anna

    Thanks for sharing, Sakita!
    Agree, the best advice is to put yourself in the reporter’s shoes, cause some people don’t understand the real value of press release.
    I also trying to get this idea into my blog http://prnews.io/blog/ , probably it could help my clients to figure out what kind of press releases journalists expect from them.

    • MissSuccess

      Thanks for your comment Anna!

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