PR writing and pitching tips from former journalists

PR tips from our team of former journalists

In a world where journalists are busier than ever and receive hundreds of emails every day, getting your PR story to stand out from the crowd can be a challenge.

While the communications mix has changed beyond recognition over the last decade, the press release still has a huge role to play. The print press has shrunk enormously, but regional newspapers now enjoy vast reach online, and specialist print titles still command authority across several sectors.

Plus, with the advent of online measurement tools like CoverageBook, you now have instant access to estimated views, backlinks and onward social shares for the coverage you achieve. It means it’s much easier to immediately show clients the value of getting a story placed on a good quality website.

However, all of this goes out of the window if your press release is spiked the second it lands in a reporter’s inbox. Here’s a few top PR pitching tips to help avoid this happening…

A good email subject header is vital

You have a matter of seconds to grab a journalist’s attention. So, a snappy, well-written subject header on your email is vital. Our top PR pitching tip here – the subject header needs to be as literal as possible, so you don’t leave the journalist wondering what the story is about. Don’t waste words. You need to convey as much of your story as you possibly can.

Nailing that covering note

So, you’ve hooked your journalist in with a well-written subject header. Wouldn’t it be a shame if their finger still goes straight for the delete key because your covering note isn’t up to scratch?

Avoid being overly familiar, unless you know the journalist already. Keep it short, snappy and informative. You have three or four paragraphs to keep their interest, so every word is vital.

You need to convey as much of the story as you can, and tell the journalist why this story is relevant to them. Which brings us neatly on to…

Know your audience

Once again, there’s no point writing a perfect pitch email and a snappy email header if the story you’re pitching isn’t relevant to the reporter you’re sending it to.

Make use of tools like Vuelio to find out what topics journalists cover, and for regional journalists, make sure the story is relevant to their patch. Our top PR pitching tip on this
topic: there’s no quicker way of getting your email deleted than if you pitch a story about a town or city which is miles outside the area they cover. They’ll know you’ve not done your research.

Make sure it’s a good story!

Let’s finish by stating the obvious. If the story you’re pitching is no good, it doesn’t matter how well-written your email is. It’s going straight on the spike!

Your story needs to have a genuine news hook and not rely on overly-commercial copy to get your message across. The best PR stories are regular news stories, just one with your client’s key messages gently scattered throughout. If your ‘story’ is a sales pitch dressed up as news, it won’t see the light of day unless you pay for the privilege. Writing PR releases covers a varied range of topics, but it’s a universal truth that if it has no news value, it’s not getting used.

Need help getting your news in front of your target audience? Speak to us about our public relations services or learn more about our award-winning PR work.

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