What makes for a good media pitch?

Know your target, personalize your message, and get to the point -- then follow up, but don't be a pest.

Pitching a story is a lot like fishing. You can randomly throw something out there and hope to get a nibble. You might even catch a few responses. But chances are good you can sit all day waiting for a bite if you don’t have a plan of action.

Writers and editors are pitched story ideas daily at all times, day and night. The pile of emails sent to an inbox is always large; usually in the hundreds for bigger publications and organizations. Your pitch can be easily lost in the shuffle simply because of sheer volume.

To get a better understanding of how pitching can be effective, let’s look at four ways you can pitch something, get a response, and have a story be set into motion.

  1. Know your target. It’s important to know who you are sending a pitch to. Has this writer or editor recently published something that is in the ballpark of something you want to pitch? If the answer is yes, don’t be afraid to send an email. If you’re blindly sending out pitches to anyone and everyone with a writer or editor byline, don’t expect anyone or everyone to respond.
  2. Personalize your message. Copying and pasting the exact same pitch for a dozen writers and editors might be an easy way to get a lot done in a short amount of time. But something as simple as addressing the writer or editor by name is a good start. If you take the time to get a feel for what he or she prefers to write and publish, you may very well get an answer.
  3. Get to the point. Since the volume of pitches received in an inbox are large, chances are good those pitches will not be read from start to finish, or at all. Highlight the pressing and most important information in the subject line and the message’s body. If you have a launch date or a release date, make sure you focus on the urgency.
  4. Follow up, but don't be a pest. While it’s good to follow up if you have not heard anything back, repeatedly following up to no response is not really the best practice. You don’t make people interested with six unanswered followups. There is a way to go about following up and not be a pest. Focus on being polite.