Recap: Michael Smart Pitching Bootcamp

In case you missed it, PR pro Michael Smart spent a morning sharing excellent tips and ideas to take your media relations expertise to a new level. Here are takeway 5 tips from the workshop, but you can sign up for weekly tips on Michael’s website.

Be Brief
The best thing we can give journalists is time. Emails should be concise and meaningful – after a short and personal introduction, the guts of your pitch should be compelling and customized.

Eliminate Clutter
Along those same lines, don’t spend a lot of time introducing yourself (taking away from the meat of your pitch), and filling your pitch with jargon and proper nouns, unless they propel the news value. For example, instead of using the full (and long) title of a study, summarize it in a few words that comes across more conversational and readable.

The 80/20 Rule
This tried and true rule applies to many situations, including pitching. Spend 80% of your time on the top 20% of your media list. This means doing to down-and-dirty research to truly know those 10-15 targets – know their beat, specific topics they frequently cover, social media handles, and pick up a few facts to connect with them on a personal level. Really doing your research on these top media will go a long way in crafting the perfect, personalized pitch to gain their attention – and build a relationship.

Subject Lines
What’s the goal of a subject line? To get the reader to open the email. Take some inspiration from the cover of your favorite magazine – the headlines are short, snappy, and tease information. They include numbers, “how tos,” and ask questions. Another trick, when appropriate, is to create a clever contrarian subject line – something that rejects popular opinion. For example, in our workshop, two gentlemen from a local live theater company cleverly came up with “Millennials don’t want to sit in the dark for two hours.”

Call to Action
Finish your pitch with a direct and limited call to action – a “yes or no” or “A or B” question. For example, “Is this a fit for upcoming coverage?” “Would you like more information on X?” “Are you available Monday at 10 or Wednesday at Noon for an interview?” Once a journalist has decided to pursue an angle, be prepared with sources including interviews, real people (customer reviews), and third parties (experts), as well as visuals – and always use links.

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