Contact the correct person. It’s plain and simple – do your homework. If you’re unsure who to contact, the organization’s website is a great place to start.
Know how the person likes to be pitched. Many journalists prefer email to phone calls, but not in every case.
Tailor your pitch. This shows them that you care – that you did your homework. Mistargeting is one of journalists’ biggest pet-peeves. And a blanket pitch is not going to work!
Keep the pitch short and sweet. The subject line is the most important part of an email – it HAS to grab the person’s attention. And once you have their attention, the first two sentences must intrigue them to read more. If you’re pitching a TV outlet, set up visuals.
Use bullet points. Most people are visual learners, seeing a simple list helps people understand the most important facts.
Sell your expert. If you have an expert on the matter, sell him! Think about what makes that person unique. But be careful not to promote someone as an expert if they’re not. Someone with a few years of experience is not necessarily an expert.
Avoid attachments. Many journalists have spam filters for emails with attachments. And let’s be honest, who opens attachments from people they don’t know? If you need to send an attachment, make note in your pitch that you’re sending a second email with an attachment, or ask them if they accept attachments.
Take “No” for an answer. Know when to step back and when to push. If you have this great, timely, newsworthy story that’s on fire and the journalist says “no” then step back. Don’t continue to push the story in subsequent emails, phone calls, tweets, etc. This is an annoyance for journalists. Stepping back can leave the door open for future opportunities.
Do NOT leave long voicemails. A long, breathy voicemail is sure to get deleted. When you leave a voicemail, leave your name and phone number at the beginning of the message and keep it short and to the point.
Anticipate the journalist’s needs. Provide a phone number where you can be reached during and after business hours. Be sure you know your pitch inside-and-out and be prepared to answer questions and provide additional information.