The rules of engaging the media have changed in our wired world. Presenting — or pitching — yourself is more likely to be in an email than by phone or in person. So how can you ensure that you stand out from all the other email pitches a reporter receives?
The same as always – some things don’t change. You need to have a “grabber” that will compel the reporter to open your email and not someone else’s.
The Subject Line is Critical
Everything hinges on the subject line. You have only a second or two to grab a reporter’s attention. Leading with dry, dull, facts about yourself or your client’s product isn’t going to cut it.
Today, reporters are highly influenced by the informality of the Internet. Have you noticed that news stories on the front page of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times are written as if they were feature articles? Even these stalwarts are fighting for their readers’ attention. So help them out with an irresistible grabber.
Consider these approaches:
- Make it emotional. If your client has just launched a new drug that will end a child’s suffering, that’s what you lead with, not the name of the drug and it’s properties.
- Take a contrarian point of view. State why you think conventional wisdom about something is flat out wrong.
- Tell a story. News reporting these days is all about telling stories. “Imagine a world in which…”
- Overcoming challenges. Describe how you, or your client, overcame an almost insurmountable challenge in getting your miracle drug to market.
- The unexpected. Man bites elephant.
- Hitching to the news. Find a unique angle on a current story in the news that hasn’t been told before.
- Seasonal stories. Find a hook around a major holiday.
- How to. Always a grabber with the right punch line.
Search Today’s Headlines
Take a look at newspaper headlines for ideas. Frame your subject lines as headlines. Here are a few striking examples from only one edition of The New York Times:
- Elders Offer Help at Crippled Reactor
- Philip Roth Gives Up Reading Fiction
- Nation Goes on its Merry Way to Ruin
- Along the Spine, Women Buckle at Breaking Points
If you received a pitch that said Philip Roth, a famous fiction writer, had given up reading fiction wouldn’t you want to read more to find out why?
Pitches That Worked
Here are the subject lines of several real pitches that resulted in interviews – and placements:
- Do employers have privacy rights?
- Halloween at work is scary business
- 7 signs your employees are poachable
- Only 33 percent of CEOs are champions of technology
Do you have media pitches that worked for you? We’d love to know what they are.