Do you want your company to secure coverage on sites like TechCrunch, Time, and Wired? Before you send your next pitch, consider this: Journalists at some top-tier publications receive 500 pitches per week. Next, consider that 45 percent of these writers publish only one story per day.

How can your startup rise above this noise and improve your chances of securing press? I surveyed more than 500 digital publishers to find out. Here are 10 insights and action steps from my survey--and they don't start with writing a press release.

1. More we, less me

Seventy percent of writers would rather collaborate on a project than receive a finished asset in a pitch.

2. Offer exclusive research

Thirty-nine percent of writers want to cover a story that includes exclusive research; 27 percent want breaking news; 15 percent want emotional stories; and 19 percent want relevant content. Respondents also told us they'd like to receive content with unusual angles, actionable advice, and interesting data, as well as high arousal emotions like surprise and interest.

3. Provide a graphic

The top five requested content formats, in order, are articles, infographics, mixed-media pieces, data visualizations, and images. Meanwhile, fewer than 5 percent of publishers said they want a press release.

4. Establish a personal connection before you pitch

Sixty-four percent of writers said that having a personal connection is of at least some importance when they consider pitches.

5. Proofread, proofread, proofread

A whopping 85.2 percent of the publishers said they delete a pitch containing spelling/grammar errors, regardless of the quality of the content.

6. Avoid marketing speak

Writers said the use of industry jargon--like "press release" and "pitch"--is a sure-fire way to land your email in the trash. You should also avoid vague superlatives like "revolutionary," "life-changing," "stunning," etc. Finally, writers want you to please refrain from using all caps. No one likes shouting, whether in-person or through text.

7. Send your pitch via email

Eighty-one percent of writers said they want to be pitched through email. Only 9 percent prefer social media, and 10 percent are split between phone calls and contact forms.

8. Your subject line is your call to action

Eighty-five percent of respondents said they open an email based on subject line. Keep yours short (6-10 words) and descriptive.

9. Keep it short and sweet

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they prefer pitches that are fewer than 200 words. Only 12 percent want a pitch that is an in-depth explanation of more than 300 words.

10. The early bird gets the press

Sixty-nine percent of our survey participants told us they prefer to receive pitches in the morning, 22 percent prefer the afternoon, and only 9 percent prefer the evening.

Published on: Oct 15, 2014
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