The dos and don’ts of pitching your story to journalists
Updated: Nov 30, 2022
What constitutes a good pitch? Every journalist will have a different opinion, but overall there are best practices to follow when pitching your story.
These best practices go beyond your usual email practices, such as including your company name and capitalizing correctly.
Broadcast journalist Jacqueline Matter from FOX 5 D.C. receives many emails from public relations practitioners pitching their events, products, and more. She must sift through these emails to find what is worthy of her and her audience's attention.
She says that first and foremost, a PR practitioner should be thinking about what audience the journalist writes for.
Matter works in D.C., where her audience is primarily locals and people interested in politics. She says, “When I look for a pitch I’m looking for something related to those audiences. If I’m pitched a story about an event from California that has nothing to do with either of my audiences, I’m not going to read it.”
Email subject lines are very valuable when pitching a story. The subject line is your first, and maybe only, impression. When going through hundreds of emails, journalists will only select the few that stand out to them.
It is best to keep your subject line broad but containing the most relevant information for the journalist, says Matter. A journalist needs to be able to quickly scan your subject line for information and decide if they want to read more.
On top of this, a subject line should be exciting to read. Matter used the example of a pitch she saw recently for a book signing event that simply read, “book signing event.” This subject line was too broad and boring.
When a journalist decides they want to read more, they are looking for substance. This means that whatever claims you make in your subject line need to be backed up with information and points to discuss.
A pitch that reads, “amazing new park will bring in locals for events” is not something a journalist wants to see, says Matter. They want to know how that statement will be achieved. Describe why your park is amazing and will bring in locals. A journalist wants a picture painted for them, not just empty statements.
By Morgan Davidson
Morgan is from Fallbrook, California. In Fallbrook she represented and served her community through the Rotary Club and Boys and Girls Club of America. She moved to San Diego in 2021 to pursue her degree in Journalism. Morgan is in her fourth year at San Diego State University and is looking forward to her career in esports and gaming PR.