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4 Tips for Writing Email Pitches That Reporters Will Read

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In case you’re just a little bored with “how to pitch” stories…here’s another one!

Confession: we know how frustrating the process can be. We also know that being a good writer does not always make one a good pitcher.

Mattan Griffel, CEO of app launch service One Month Rails, wrote a great Medium piece on emails that busy people might actually read—and while he wasn’t specifically writing about pitches or addressing PRs, his points still apply.

We’ve adapted them after the jump.

1. Stay succinct

We know how challenging this can be because certain blog editors (cough cough) do have a tendency to overwrite. Blame it on the MFA.

But yes, any pitch that can be summarized in two to three sentences will be so much more effective. And you know this.

2. Tame your copy blocks

In other words, split it up. Multiple studies have found that people prefer to read in quick bursts or bullet points rather than big copy blocks—especially when they’re online and have other things to do.

So when you format your email, just make sure that you split it up into as many bits as possible so it doesn’t look intimidating on the screen.

Our high school writing teacher told us that the average paragraph should have five sentences, but an email is not a novel; it’s not even a short story or a personal essay.

3. Make the pitch clear as quickly as possible

After reading your subject line and your first two sentences, the reader should immediately know what your pitch is all about and what you would like him or her to do with the information provided.

Obvious point: helpful hints are helpful. If, for example, you’re pitching a holiday-themed campaign by one of your clients, you could suggest that it would be a great addition to a related trend piece or listicle. You might even compare it to similar moves by other brands that aren’t your clients, because that sort of cookie will pique the writer’s interest.

Also: if a press release takes up most of the body of your email then it really is a great idea to tell the recipient why it’s relevant with a quick intro sentence.

4. Be reasonable with your request

We get lots of pitches about product launches that encourage us to hop on the phone for a quick chat with a CMO or CEO. We usually don’t bite, and here’s why: while some sites will write posts about the new tweak to your CMS software, many will not unless, as we mentioned above, you frame it as part of a larger story. Also: interviews are very time consuming, and most writers don’t directly benefit from watching you go through the details in a presentation.

In other words, recognize the fact that coverage of your launch/update is a favor to you on the part of the journalist you’re pitching.

Also: instead of a phone interview, propose an email Q&A, especially if you’re pitching a professional blogger who works under intense pressure to post as often as possible. No transcription = quicker to publish. Everyone wins.

Here’s an example of why these points are important: this week we got an email pitch with the headline “Media Alert: Image for consideration”. It was just that: no suggestion of a story or angle, no explanation of how it fit into larger trends. Just a picture of some people we don’t know at an event sponsored by someone else we don’t know.

We also received several pitches for software and other products that did not in any way indicate why our readers would care. It’s not our job to help you sell your product.

Love you guys, but those are huge red flags.

Do we have other points to add?

[H/T Quartz]

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