Have you ever received an email from a friend or colleague that stands out in your email inbox? It might be a personal note, a funny joke, or an urgent matter that they want to ensure you see. What characteristics make that email stand out next to the impersonal ones you receive from companies and spammers?

You might notice that the email includes your first name, or that the subject might be unorthodox, or that the first sentence seems customized to get your attention specifically.

These are all great tactics used by professional email marketers, but they can also be used when you are looking to pitch to the media.

“Pitching to the Media” :

When we toss that phrase around in the PR/marketing industry, it can sometimes lose its true meaning. We say it so much that it almost seems like the media is a collective group of people whose identity is vague at best.

This is far from reality. Journalists and reporters, believe it or not, are people too.

They inspect their email inbox much like we do – they scan the names of those who sent them messages and pick out the ones that seem the most urgent/interesting.

The question is, how do we make your media pitch appear as a golden nugget in their inbox?

Generic Approach:

Sending out mass media pitches is still a tactic used by many companies today. Let me be clear – it can bring in results. If a media pitch is well-written and the story you are pitching is interesting, members of the media will pay attention.

However, these kinds of campaigns tend to bring in less results when the pitch doesn’t include a sure-fire story. In these cases, it’s better to go with the personalized approach.

What does that entail? (The 4 Keys):

1. Subject Line:

There are different ways to go about this, but typically you want to create a subject line that appears as though it was written by a real human, not an automated system. Journalists get spammed by content networks all of time – make sure that your subject line doesn’t look like one of those emails! One great strategy is to include your name and the name of the journalist in the subject line.

For example: CNBC Reporter Joe Smith contact request from Neil Grasso.

Short and to the point, and it acknowledges that you are aware of the reporter’s place of work. The small details can go a long way.

2. First Sentence:

Professional, yet human. You don’t want to sound like a robot. You also don’t want to come off as sounding arrogant or unprofessional. The first sentence can be viewed in most email previews, so this line really counts for a lot. I recommend starting by addressing the journalist by their first name to establish a more personal connection. Although using last names might appear more professional, it also can come off as cold and spam-like. Then, introduce yourself and attempt to establish an immediate connection to the industry or beats that they cover. If you are the CEO of an athletic center pitching, introduce yourself as heavily involved in the space. an example of this all might be as follows:

Hi Alex,

My name is Neil Grasso, and I’ve been heavily involved in the youth basketball scene for the past 10 years as the CEO of The Buckets Complex in Hartford, CT.

This first sentence established who I was, why I connect to the writer’s beat, and where I am located geographically – all important pieces of information for the journalist.

3. Homework:

To put it simply, you NEED to do your research to make a personalized pitch. Don’t just jot down the beats that the reporter covers in your email – actually take the time to read their recent work. Draw connections to your own story in terms of angle, newsworthiness, and industry importance. This is a crucial key as it can make your pitch appear genuine and customized, rather than generic and mass-distributed.

For example:

I noticed you have covered Pop Warner football news in recent months, and I thoroughly appreciated how you emphasized the importance of the improved facilities when discussing the league’s recent growth. As a business owner that has worked in facilities management for the past decade, I know how crucial it is for athletic leagues to utilize high-quality facilities to grow both participation in the sport as well as fan attendance. That’s why I believe the recent renovations to The Buckets Complex will result in the youth AAU basketball scene tripling in size this upcoming season.

Demonstrate that you have done your research, make a connection, and explore an angle that might interest the reporter’s readers. By making their job a little easier, you can quickly enhance your potential for coverage.

4. Contact Information:

Although this is one of the most simple keys to include, it might be the most important one out of them all. If you right a great pitch, but forget to include contact information, you have pretty much ruined any chances of getting pickup. Make sure to include your email, phone number, company website (if applicable), and your title at the company.

A little extra effort can go a long way in this industry. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal with your outreach!