One thing I wasn't prepared for when I became a freelance writer was the sheer number of press pitches that make their way to my inbox. From PR firms to eager and scrappy founders, I receive anywhere from 10 to 30 pitches via email each and every day.
Some of these emails are great. They're relevant, enlightening, and short -- which means I usually end up a finding a place to use that information and plug that product or company.
But, the vast majority of these messages? They immediately get dropped into my trash bin -- after I've paused to groan profusely, of course.
So, what's the difference between the emails that immediately get junked and the ones who actually make me take a second look? Here are some tips -- straight from my own personal experience as a journalist -- that you should keep in mind when pitching your company for press coverage.
1. Do Your Research
Anybody who took just a few seconds to do an internet search for my name would quickly be able to glean that my written work focuses mainly on career, self-development, and entrepreneurship topics.
But, you'd be shocked to see how many pitches I get for everything from cat litter to scented candles -- things that I would absolutely never write about.
While it's tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that sending more emails will yield a higher success rate, that's not always the case. You're better off to send five emails to relevant journalists who are thought leaders in your space than to send a blanket email to 500 writers whose areas of focus are all over the map.
So, take the time to do the research before you pitch in order to find more targeted people you can reach out to.
2. Address it Personally
At least half the time, I click open a press pitch email (yes, I really do at least glance at every single one of them!) and see that it starts with an impersonal greeting. Without reading any further, that message gets dragged to my trash bin.
Why? Because it didn't include my name or any sort of personal greeting -- which means I pretty much know for certain that this is a mass message that this company is sending to everybody with a byline and an email address.
Related to the point above, the more tailored and personal you can keep things, the more responses you'll receive.
3. Keep it Brief
Another thing that inspires me to immediately toss pitches into the trash bin? If I open that email and am greeted with a wall of text that requires so much scrolling my finger cramps.
Journalists are busy, and you're competing with the numerous other pitches that are clogging up their inboxes on any given day.
So, you need to get to the point and explain what you're pitching, why it matters, and why this journalist should care. Skip all of the fluff and unnecessary background information and get straight to the meat and potatoes.
If there's potential for coverage there, the journalist will reach out to get more information if needed -- it doesn't all need to be included in your first correspondence.
4. Avoid Buzzwords and Jargon
Your startup is innovative. Your company is pushing the envelope. Your product is groundbreaking and revolutionary.
Sure, to you, these seem like powerful and attention-grabbing adjectives to describe what you're pitching. But, to that journalist? They're a bunch of meaningless buzzwords that they see in nearly every pitch that arrives in their inboxes.
Skip the jargon and instead keep things direct. Leave the weaving of words up to the journalist.
5. Wait to Follow Up
You're eager to expand the reach of your product or company by being included in an article -- I get it. However, resist the urge to jump the gun and follow up immediately.
Believe it or not, I receive plenty of, "Did you get my email?" follow-up messages less than 24 hours after the original was sent.
Remember, responding to your pitch isn't high on the journalist's priority list -- if you've even made it on their list at all. So, wait a reasonable amount of time (at least three business days) before checking in.
And, on that note, limit yourself to following up only once. If you don't hear back after that, you can assume the journalist isn't interested.
Pitching your company or your product to journalists is a great way to get some press coverage and widen your reach -- as long as you do it effectively. Put these five tips to work, and you're that much more likely to increase your success rate!