How to craft the perfect PR pitch

Cardiff University graduate Fleur Stamford works for London based B2B PR agency, TopLine Comms.

Getting a journalist to notice your story can be tough.

You only have a few short paragraphs to combine your research, facts, and an element of storytelling.

Working at a B2B PR agency, I understand the challenge of getting a response from journalists and the level of competition your pitch is up against.

So here are my four top tips to successfully pitch your story.

Research, research, research

Use social media profiles and previous articles to work out who might appreciate the story

The single most essential part of crafting your pitch is research.

Before you even start, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are you pitching to?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What type of person reads the publication?
  • What would appeal most to them?

Next, it’s time to read the publication. Find out if they have already covered the specific topic you were hoping to write about.

If they have, consider how you could add something new to the subject. Find out whether there are relevant forward features that your story could tie into, or whether there is a specific section of the publication that might be most receptive to your pitch.

It’s also important to find out which journalists within the publication cover the topic you want to write about. Use their social media profiles and previous articles to work out who might appreciate the story.

Most journalists will appreciate that you did your homework.

Telling your story

Think about what sort of reaction you want to generate

Storytelling is an effective way of getting the reader’s attention and holding on to it.

It also makes the article more enjoyable to read. Stories are effective whether you’re writing news or opinion, but these two need to be approached slightly differently.

If you are writing an opinion article, you need to consider the role of the storyteller and their credibility, and what makes their interpretation unique. Think about what sort of reaction you want to generate from your opinion, and how best you can combine the main arguments into the story you’re trying to tell.

If you’re writing a news story, on the other hand, you need to consider the newsworthiness of the story and why it warrants the reader’s attention. Perhaps it is controversial, novel or forms part of a larger story, but in any case, it’s up to you to demonstrate that readers will care about it. 

In the PR industry, products and services often don’t inherently lend themselves to stories, so we usually turn to case studies. This is a lesson that you can draw on for all sorts of articles.

Keep it brief!

A short pitch is a good pitch.

Even the best stories have only a few moments to get the journalist interested since they are constantly inundated with emails and calls, so try to keep it to just the most important, relevant information.

If you’re pitching by phone, you still need to keep it short, but you also need to remember not to rush. Services such as Vuelio and Roxhill sometimes list whether a journalist prefers to be contacted by phone or email, so it’s worth looking to make sure you’re reaching out to them through their preferred channel.

Remember, you don’t have to tell the whole story, just give enough information to pique the journalist’s curiosity.

After you’ve pitched

Consider the potential for a follow-up in the future

After you’ve sent out your pitch, it’s time to plan out your next steps.

If your story has been published, consider the potential for a follow-up in the future, covering what has changed or how the story concluded.

It’s also worth strengthening your relationship with the journalists you contacted. In the PR world, we often work to set our clients up as useful sources for journalists, so even if there is no immediate opportunity for coverage, journalists may reach out when they need information.

This can also help, since getting your name in their address book means that they are more likely to give your pitches a fair look in the future.

If you’re finding journalists hard to reach, try researching them and try to find them at an exhibition or public event to introduce yourself and express your shared interest in their preferred subject.

Overall, keep your pitches focused, narrative led, well-researched, concise, and try to establish relationships with journalists. Do all of these and you’ll be well on your way to pitching success in the future.