With journalists in understaffed newsrooms receiving hundreds of pitches each week, it can be difficult to stand out as a PR professional or independent author. It’s so easy for pitches to get lost or overlooked in crowded inboxes that they aren’t given a chance. So how do you succeed in an industry that has such little time? Try our three keys to get a journalist’s attention:

Find the most effective way to contact each journalist

The most effective way to contact a journalist is by email so that they can take their time to read your pitch thoroughly. If an email is not available, don’t be afraid to call and ask. Do some research. Try searching for the journalist through the outlet website or their own website and social media or by calling the outlet and asking for which editor, journalist, or reporter would be most interested in your story.

This outreach builds a professional relationship with journalists. You’re taking the time to show your interest in them and their work as well as getting to know them and giving them the chance to get to know you. 

Don’t use typical subjects/headlines

Journalists often judge a pitch by its cover – or subject line. They receive so many pitches every day that they simply can’t open everything in a timely manner, if at all, which is why a unique subject line or headline is so important in grabbing a journalist’s attention.

Some suggestions:

  • ask a rhetorical question about your topic to pique curiosity
  • reference a related article or topic they’ve written about before
  • write the subject line as it would appear in the journalist’s/outlet’s style 
  • lead with the most interesting part of the pitch

But don’t overpromise, lie, or use clickbait-style headlines.

Do your research

Understand that each journalist is different and not every outlet covers a story in the same way or style. Analyze the journalist’s work and let them see that you took the time to learn about who they are, how they write, and what they are intrigued by. If they’ve already written about the topic, mention the article and your thoughts on it, then provide a new angle to keep your related pitch fresh. Never pitch a journalist something they clearly don’t want to cover.

If your pitch does not align with the journalist’s target audience or own interest, it will not be considered. Being aware of what the audience wants will help you convince the journalist that your pitch is relevant. It also makes life easier for the journalist, which is something everyone pays attention to – how you’re helping them.

Even though it’s difficult to make sure your pitches are noticed, journalists rely on them for story ideas and content. Working together is a mutual benefit for both parties, which is why taking the time to research and build relationships is the most important part of either job and the foundation of our three keys!


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