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What is a pitch in public relations?

By June 18, 2020101 tips
Black woman with white sweater sitting in front of a laptop typing on it.

Many people maintain that there is nothing more difficult than writing a press release, passing on pertinent information about your client’s product or innovation to journalists, and leaving them curious about setting up an interview or even publishing the content in the vehicle they work for. Indeed, many do not grasp the importance of a convincing pitch when contacting a reporter. But what is a pitch in public relations?

A pitch is a short summary of the content of your press release that comes just above it in the email and/or message sent to a journalist. It is crucial for informing them and making them curious enough to read the rest of the content included in your press release. Check out some tips for crafting an attractive pitch below:

1. Create an attractive email subject line

The most interesting and comprehensive pitch in the world will go unnoticed if the email subject line is not intriguing enough for the journalist to want to open it. It pays to think about succinct subject lines that will leave the recipient wanting more, leading them to click on the email and read it in full.

Subject lines like “Suggestion of Agenda” or “New application is launched”, for example, are not as appealing as an explanation of what the agenda is, or why this application differs from the others; whereas “New application that helps to detect cases of Covid-19 is launched” is a subject line that could be of interest to media outlets covering technology and even health. Which brings us to our second tip.

2. Identify who the email should be sent to

One of the first things to grasp when considering the usefulness of a public relations pitch is that it will be more successful when focused towards a particular media. In other words, there is no point in writing a succinct and informative pitch and sending it to an outlet that does not cover the subject at hand. Take time to compile a complete and up-to-date press list.

3. Avoid “automatic” emails

Journalists are already familiar with the conventional templates used in public relations pitches, so steer clear of the automatic. Of course, it is impossible to create an individual pitch for each reporter if your story is not an exclusive, but it is important to  write a non-mechanical and friendly text – without distracting from the subject at hand, naturally. If the story is a health issue, the text should not be superficial,  instead summarizing what the article or study is about and inviting the reader to check out the press release.

But if the focus is lifestyle, for example, there is no reason not to make the pitch lighter and even a little playful, i.e.: “research on travel tendencies is published, and the results are surprising”. This will make the journalist feel like reading your release.

4. Be succinct, but don’t miss out information

Writing a long text just illustrates that you do not understand the purpose of a public relations pitch, which is to entice the reader with a short summary, and get them interested in reading your press release.

However it is important, in two paragraphs at most, to include information that demonstrates the importance of the topic under discussion. A well-crafted pitch makes a journalist’s life easier, since they can put the email aside to read later if they are interested.

5. Don’t forget your contact information

It is important to always add information at the end of your public relations pitch so that the journalist can contact you. Many reporters admit that they have stopped following interesting stories due to lack of communication with the professional who sent it. So be sure to include your phone number – if possible, your cell phone – and email address so that they can find you easily and follow up.

When all is said and done, it is important to realise that there is no magic spell:  you could write the perfect pitch, send it to the right contacts and, for some reason, the journalist will not be interested in running a story on that particular subject. However, getting to grips with the vehicle you want to communicate with, and presenting your agenda in an interesting way, only increases your chances. Good luck, and get pitching!


This publication is part of our quick PR guide. Check out the blog or follow our Social Media channels (@sherlockcomms) to read more new content written by our team.

 101 Tip #11: How to build relationships with journalists and why it matters >>>
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