Having been at BlueSky for close to a year now, and starting with next to no PR experience, I’ve definitely picked up a few things! So, here are some of the most valuable PR lessons I’ve learnt about pitching, one of the most important aspects of the job.
Lesson 1 – Pitching needs to be relevant
Pitching is one of the most significant things you’ll do while working in PR, so a vital lesson to learn early on is that you need to put aside the necessary time and effort to craft well thought out, personalised pitches. There’s nothing worse than a generic, copy and pasted pitch, which hasn’t taken into account anything about the publication or journalist.
It’s crucial that when pitching, you go the extra mile and ensure you’ve targeted your pitch as precisely as possible. You can do this in a number of ways, such as checking out the website of the publication for specific sections that would be good to place content in, or searching the journalist to see if they have a history of writing about the topic you are suggesting. This is especially important if you’ve had no prior contact with the journalist.
Lesson 2 – The subject line matters
Another invaluable PR lesson I’ve learnt about pitching specifically is the value of an engaging subject line, as this can be incredibly important in securing you coverage. Put yourself in the shoes of an over-worked, busy journalist that is flooded with emails, hundreds of which will be potential pitches – you simply won’t have time to look at everything.
Therefore, without an engaging subject line, you are essentially wasting the small window of time where you could grab their attention. While I’m not advising anyone to go full-on clickbait, as this will more likely hurt your chances of success, an engaging hook is very important, and will boost your odds of securing features.
Lesson 3 – Always have the audience in mind, no matter how advanced you are
Something that is easy to forget, especially as you progress, is to always keep your target audience in mind. Sadly, it’s easy to lose sight of the audience and what will be relevant to them when you have written hundreds of pitches – and start to believe that you know best.
However, no matter how advanced you are, or how clever you think the angle is – the basic principle of producing relevant and interesting content for a target audience will always hold true. When you start to believe your own hype, that’s when you’ll suffer.
Lesson 4 – Remember to Hyperlink
A small but important detail to remember is that including relevant hyperlinks in your pitch will go a long way towards showing a journalist that you are well-informed on a given subject. For instance, linking to your clients LinkedIn page, or any work they have done on the topic that you are pitching can be very effective in this regard. In addition to this, hyperlinking any stats included in the pitch to show your sources will help indicate that you are well-informed and can be relied on to provide a high-quality story.
Lessons 5 – Don’t overcomplicate things
While it might be tempting to pack as much information and value as possible into your pitches, it’s important to resist the urge to do too much. Ultimately, you’re not trying to show how smart you are, how wide a vocabulary you have, or write a literary classic – you’re trying to deliver results.
This goes for any content you produce, be it pitches, press releases, blogs or features. You’ll get far more mileage from providing everything that is needed in a well-written, clear and concise manner than trying to prove you’re the smartest person in the room.
A few of many
Ultimately, nailing a perfect pitch is just one of many PR lessons that we’ve all had to learn over the course of a career in PR. However, this is one of many important lessons that my colleagues and I have covered on the blog – so for more PR tips, lessons and advice, be sure to check out the BlueSky blog
Need help planning your PR, Marketing, or Social Media strategy?