Your Email Pitch to the Local Reporter

Your Email Pitch to the Local Reporter

Your Email Pitch to the Local Reporter

In the last issue, the focus was on how to write a press release, but it only touched briefly on how to write an email pitch. I explained that often an email pitch is all that you need to get your story accepted by a reporter. Today, we’ll focus on the pitch in more detail because it’s a vital element in the process.

Lots of great ideas never make it into the news. There are different reasons for this, but a common one is that reporters never see them.

Why?

Most reporters get swamped with emails. The good news is that the vast majority come from people who have no idea what the media are looking for and are focused on their own needs and wants, rather than those of the media outlets and their audiences.

You can use this to your advantage as know what they are looking for. However, it would help if you still had a way to stand out above the crowd and get the reporter to give your story idea the attention it deserves.

The first way to do this was covered in the article a few issues back. That focused on how to get on his or her radar. Like any business relationship, you are far more likely to listen to an idea from someone that you know than someone who suddenly rings you or sends you an email out of the blue. That’s your first advantage.

If you have spoken to the reporter, you should know how they want to receive your pitches. If you haven’t, email is still the preferred option of most.

The subject line is critical here. If this is boring, the email may well get deleted before it’s even been opened.

The subject line has to hook the reporter enough to make him or her open the email. An excellent way to come up with the right subject line is to check out the front page of your local newspaper. The headlines there are all designed for the same purpose. Obviously, they need to explain what your idea is about, but they also need to do this in the most exciting way possible.

There are a few things that need to be in the body of your email pitch. Firstly, you need to sum up your idea as quickly as possible. Reporters don't have much time, so you need to get to the point. You could either do this in a few sentences or use a few bullet points.

Two other things are missing from most pitches. Firstly, you need to say why you think the idea would be of interest to the audience of the media outlet. That's the only criteria that will decide whether the reporter moves ahead or not. Remember, this is not about you; it's about the audience of the outlet.

The last thing that works well is to comment on an earlier story from that reporter, particularly if it relates in some way to your pitch. That shows you've done your homework and are keen to help, rather than score some free publicity. Good luck.