As a startup founder I know that all startups are desperate to grow fast and get noticed. We all want fast exposure and we don’t have a lot of money to hire a PR firm or a lot of time to perfect our PR outreach approach.
We just want influencers to spread the word about us and known publications to cover us.
At JustReachOut we have over 2K+ paying customers (who are startups and entrepreneurs). When I speak with most of our customers there is one question all of them ask me most of the time:
How do I pitch myself to press and influencers?
In this post the folks from LeadFuze and I have compiled a set of 40 best email pitches, PR hacks and simple outreach tips which guarantee to get a response.
In this post, you will learn how to:
- Use Linkedin InMail to reach a journalist where you’re not competing against 1000+ unread emails
- Force yourself to pitch X number of journalists a day – even if you just don’t feel like it
- Personalize your pitches (even if you’re sending them en masse) to make journalists feel like you wrote every word just for them
And 37 other PR hacks and tips to get a response from an influencer or journalist you are pitching.
Ready? Lets roll…
Every startup begins with a great idea.
If you’ve been through the process yourself, you know a lot goes into growing and thriving with your business.
Surviving those first few tentative years is a struggle, but when you start seeing repeat clients and read their raving testimonials about you, it all becomes clear why you did it in the first place!
But before you get to that place of business nirvana, it takes a heck of a lot of work.
If no one knows about you, you’re sunk.
This is why in today’s fast-paced PR environment, you need to know the art of the PR pitch so you can stand out from the rest.
|Download the 15 cold email templates which guarantee to get a response|
Not only will getting your name out there build your customer base, but it will also help improve your organic search rankings when more and more people are linking to and referencing your startup.
Hiring your own PR firm is one option, but if you are like most startups, the capital for that investment just isn’t there.
So how can you be seen if you don’t have thousands to spend on a PR campaign?
That’s the question entrepreneurs worldwide continually attempt to answer.
Even if you have a great PR tool in your pocket which doesn’t cost much you still might be struggling to reach out to press.
Luckily, if you understand the basics of PR pitches, you don’t need to hire anyone else! If you aren’t sure where to start, research and see what you can learn from other competitors in your marketplace.
Here are 40 PR pitch angles to help any startup get noticed:
1. Seek Out Journalists Who Cover Your Industry
If your company sells beauty products, would you send a pitch to a hunting magazine?
Sure, this is an exaggerated scenario, but your pitch needs to go to someone who will care about your startup.
One way to follow industry-related news, while getting to know a journalist’s style and niche, is to search Google News or create daily alerts.
Here’s an example of how to do this using the earlier example of a beauty product company.
As you can see, it takes only a small amount of effort to find those that are relevant, but when you keep searching these alerts daily, you will begin to identify the key journalists that cover industry-related topics.
Once you have these journalists identified, you will have a leg up since you have been actively following their reporting and can craft a pitch that reflects this.
Another great way to identify journalists that will be interested in you is to become a source. Not only are you getting your foot in the door, but you are providing something of value to the reporter.
Mutually beneficial relationships like these tend to continue to grow.
Identify journalists using forums like JustReachOut.
Finding a reporter looking for a source can be like finding a needle in a haystack if your don’t utilize resources specifically designed for that purpose.
Another effective way to find industry-related writers is to search Quora and Reddit for relevant conversations. Get involved in the discussion but don’t (I repeat DON’T) mention your products or services right away. Doing so will instantly demote you to troll status.
Start sharing your opinion and providing worthwhile feedback and then set your sights on journalists you are interested in building a relationship with my inviting them to join the conversation.
You can see a great example of this here.
The easiest way to turn off a journalist is to contact them with zero knowledge of their audience and what’s important to them.
In addition to creating Google Alerts, also hone in on specific journalists that you feel have the perfect audience to take interest in your story and your company.
Even if the writer also covers stories outside your industry, be familiar with them and gain as much knowledge as you can about his or her readership.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to show in your email that you have done your research.
I found your recent article, XYZ, very educational and specifically thought XYZ was fascinating. If you are looking for sources for any upcoming stories on XYZ I would love to offer my expertise.
3. Perfect Your Subject Line
How often have we heard that first impressions are everything? Or, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression?
Well, when it comes to email, these clichÃ©s couldn’t be any more right on.
Take a look at these simple subject line tips:
- Keep it to 6 to 10 words.
- Be specific — Catch the writer’s interest, why do they need to read your pitch?
- Get to the point and illicit curiosity
- Sound like a person, not a robot
- Avoid spam filter trigger words (i.e. “free” “you” or excessive use of punctuation)
Example from Hasgtagsandstilettos –
4. Tell Your Personal Story
Everyone loves storytelling.
Competition, drama, gossip, failure and unlikely success are the stories of journalistic dreams. They appeal to our emotions and when you can show there is a real person behind your startup, you are naturally more likeable.
If you want to take the personal-story-pitch approach with your targeted publications, that could work but you may have more luck telling your own story in your own words.
Build a voice, your voice, for your brand.
Fortunately, guest posts are a fantastic way to get eyes on your business while sharing your story yourself. PR of years past required actually finding a reporter to print (yes, print) your story. Now even the top publications have their own websites and encourage writer contributions.
Still not convinced?
Take a look at just the first paragraph of this contributing writer’s article in Forbes and tell me you aren’t instantly hooked!
Read the rest of the post at Forbes (I know you are as intrigued as I was!)
This is an example of a successful use of the personal story. It shows us that Sunday is a real person with a success story we can relate to.
|Download the 15 cold email templates which guarantee to get a response|
5. Share Events and Newsworthy Material
It would be great if you could simply pitch your product or service to a journalist and have them broadcast it to the masses for you.
I hate to be the one to break that dream but it will never happen.
If you don’t have something newsworthy to share, forget it. This is why community events or other newsworthy material must be the reason for your email, not just that you started a new company or service.
Not sure you have something newsworthy going on? Check out these 11 newsworthy aspects from MrMediaTraining.
6. Short and Sweet Will Get You Everywhere
Consider the fact that many popular journalists get up to 100 email pitches a day.
This isn’t said to discourage you, simply to remind you that brevity is key.
Suggested length for emails varies but some basic guidelines include anything from 20 to 100 words and somewhere between two and three paragraphs.
If you want to make your email even easier to scan, use bullet points to make the point easy to see.
7. Show Your Value to the Reader
Just as you discuss the value proposition in sales, you must do the same in your PR pitch.
It’s not about what the reporter can do for you, but what you can do for the reporter.
Every good writer wants a great scoop, something that will make their readers happy by educating or entertaining them.
Be sure to include this high up in the body of your email so that it’s front and center.
8. Avoid Simple Mistakes
As a writer myself, I will tell you that no one is immune to the occasional typo or grammatical error.
When you are crafting your pitch, however, realize top journalists will likely miss the entirety of the article the second their eye falls on a type.
This is why you need to avoid simple mistakes in that first outreach more than any other. I can’t tell you how many times a day I re-read something prior to publishing it!
If editing is not completely something you are comfortable with, get a second set of eyes to sign off on your email before you hit send.
9. Build Social Presence With Writers
Just as we know with sales, cold emails can be significantly warmed up by building a social presence.
In today’s world of journalism, even print writers have their stories shared socially through Facebook, Twitter etc.
This is your chance to begin following them and interacting. By leaving quality comments and interactions, you will start to be a recognizable name and suddenly the appearance of your email in their inbox isn’t such a shock.
10. Use Permission-Based PR in Addition to Cold Emails
“Traditionally, when we wanted to get media for our clients, we’d just send a pitch email, including the media release. While this worked for some, it wasn’t foolproof for most startups. Now, we identify a month early what journalists we’re targeting and send a simple intro email; introducing ourselves and asking their permission to send them a pitch(s) in the future. We also ask what style they prefer, how much notice they like, etc. Not only does this work — we’ve noticed a large increase in coverage rates as a result.”
— Heather Carson, President and Co-Founder of Onboardly Media
11. Use LinkedIn InMail
There’s a time and a place for traditional email, but once you have formed the beginning of a social relationship on LinkedIn, reach out with InMail to continue the relationship.
Using InMail reduces the possibility that your name will be lost when you reach out with a different form of communication than you have built the relationship with.
12. Don’t Underestimate Snail Mail
Back in those golden days before we all had computers at our fingertips, we actually used a pen, paper, envelope and stamp to express our thoughts.
As email gurus, we can easily discount direct marketing campaigns like snail mail, but when it comes to PR, it’s not always a bad idea to send an actual stamped envelope with your pitch.
13. Utilize Video for Visual Interest
Utilize YouTube for your PR strategies.
Create a funny, educational or compelling video to include in your next PR pitch email. Visually stimulating content trumps written in today’s marketplace.
14. Picture Yourself as the Person You Are Pitching to
Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your email.
What would grab your attention and make you open it?
15. Write How You Speak
Have you ever been talking to a close friend or significant other and accidentally slipped into business jargon mid-argument? Yeah… it doesn’t go over well
People like to be spoken to like people. Don’t make your writing sound like a robot.
Write how you speak. Those who struggle the most with writing often forget this key tip.
16. Ditch the Introduction
Don’t waste time explaining who you are and what your company does.
Skip the wordiness and jump straight into why it’s relevant to the journalist and their readers.
Remember the 5 w’s that journalists live by – Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
17. Promote Philanthropy
Aligning yourself and your company with a great cause not only feels good, but it makes you newsworthy as well.
Check out local philanthropy events taking place in your area and see how you can get involved.
Once you are involved, you have great newsworthy updates to pass to your targeted writers.
18. Talk About Problem Solving’¦Not Your Products and Services
No one wants to be sold to when they aren’t in any way shape or form looking to buy your product.
Pitch your story as a way to solve a common problem of simplify difficult situations that you know their readers experience.
Whatever you do, leave the sales pitch at home.
19. Don’t Forget Targeted Keywords When Actually Writing Content
The point of these pitches it to get people to write about you, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate the importance of optimizing your own content.
If your email resonates with a journalist, the first thing they are going to do is research you to see if you are legit, Building your online presence by utilizing relevant and optimized keywords will make it easier for them to find you.
|Download the 15 cold email templates which guarantee to get a response|
20. Publish Your Own Amazing Content
While we are on the subject of content, create your own!
The better your content is, the more it will be shared and the more likely it is that your name will get out there. Yes, journalist written stories are your goal but utilize the resources you have to enhance the chance your story will get picked up.
21. Focus on PR Quality Not Quantity
Don’t get too send happy with your emails.
Yes, you want coverage but take the time to make sure you are targeting only quality sources. Quality wins over quantity any day. Aim high, it may take longer to get the attention of those larger publications but it will be worthwhile in the end.
22. Monitor Relevant Twitter Hashtags
Just as Google Alerts will help you follow news stories, hashtags will help you monitor them in social media.
Not only will you be able to see who is publishing what, but you will also get to see how others are interacting with the story. These interactions can help you shape your next pitch to capture this same type of interest.
23. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Complimenting a Reporter
Everyone loves a good compliment.
Journalists are constantly covering controversial subjects and are often bombarded with hate mail. Get a journalist to notice you by complimenting their recent works. It also shows that you have done your research.
24. Host an Event
Events are newsworthy.
Create your own event and then promote, promote, promote!
25. If you Have an Event, Give Reporters Two Weeks Notice
Editorial calendars are often filled 2 weeks out. Give the reporter time to actually be able to cover your event and publish it in a reasonable amount of time.
If you are emailing them about an event happening this weekend, your efforts will be in vain.
26. Introduce Experts for Interviews with a Reporter
While building your business, you undoubtedly have come across excellent sources both personally and professionally.
Putting reporters in contact with a source you know is a great way to network and build a relationship.
27. Use Images to Help Tell Your Story
Just as I have recommended using videos, I also recommend photos and images.
Just avoid the cookie cutter office pics and only use images when you have something compelling to portray.
28. Don’t Call a Reporter Directly
One of the most common requests from reporters across the board is don’t call them.
Reporters are busy, busy, busy.
Interrupting them with phone calls is a quick way to get yourself blacklisted. Emails allow a reporter to get back to you on his or her own time.
29. Allow Time Before Following Up
Along these same lines, you must allow some time for a follow-up.
It’s a necessary part of the PR pitching process but there is a fine line between being persistent and annoying. Make sure you allow the reporter time to read and respond before filling up their inbox.
30. Don’t Send Mass Emails
Mass emails are a massive turnoff to reporters.
This shows you don’t want to take the time to actually craft a personalized email.
In a nutshell, you look lazy.
31. Be Timely, Always
Pitching the right story at the right time can be difficult. Be sure that what you are pitching is timely and fits in with the type of stories that are being covered.
32. Personalize Whenever Possible
Taking the time to make sure you have the reporter’s name, background info and proper spelling will allow you to help personalize your email, increasing the odds that it will be read.
33. Make Sure Your Signature Has All Your Contact Info
You ultimately want the reporter to contact you back right?
So don’t make it hard for them to find all methods of contacting you.
Email signatures not only make you look professional, but will provide the reporter with contact details for easy response.
34. Use P.S. After Closing
Use this to make sure you are reaching out to the right person.
“P.S. If you aren’t the right person to contact for this story, would you be able to let me know who is?”
Attaching a PS to the end of your email prevents your question about whether they are the right person from distracting from your main pitch. PS also tends to make the ask feel more gentle.
35. End With a Question
Ending with a question is a great way to naturally ask for someone to take the next step in communication.
This invites an easy response and allows for some thought on their end. People love to give advice and their opinion on matters so leverage this to raise interest.
Are there any stories you are working on now that need sources?
How far in advance is your editorial schedule laid out?
36. Test Your Message
If you are using the same general format for all your outreach and getting poor response, do something different!
Change up your subject line, the main points you discuss in your pitch and how you phrase your ask to see if you better results.
37. If Your Follow-up Gets No Response, Reach Out Again
Don’t give up. If that follow-up email didn’t get a response, wait 4 to 5 business days and reach out again.
Journalists receive thousands of each day so even if they were interested in your pitch, it may slip from their mind.
Get back on their radar by following up! I also advise you to install an email tracking tool like Mixmax so you know if the journalist has opened your email or clicked on any of its link. If they opened more than once, it’s a sign they may be interested in your pitch.
If they aren’t interested, at least most will reach out to tell you that they aren’t after your third outreach and you can move on a focus your attention elsewhere.
38. Be Consistent
Too often we have the tendency to suffer burnout. Make a goal to reach out to X number of people a day, no matter what. Friend asked me if I’m free tonight? Only if I reach out to X number of people before that! Once you stick to this schedule for a week, it’ll start to become engrained like a habit and you’ll feel guilty for not doing it.
It also helps to reward yourself for reaching your daily goals in the beginning to keep yourself on track. Something simple that brings you a burst of endorphin like a nutella croissant.
39. Join HARO
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is an excellent resource for those looking for press coverage.
Sign up for the HARO and you’ll receive twice daily emails full of requests from journalists seeking sources for their articles. Topics include high tech and business and finance. Often times, you can offer your expertise or experiences related to your industry and earn a back link to the company you work for.
You can also sign up for JustReachOut, a journalist research and outreach automation tool to search for active HARO queries related to your company and the work you do.
40. Join YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council)
YEC is an organization that can help you increase your online presence. As a member, you not only will be featured in various publications, but you will have a great opportunity for networking and growing your business.
Learning to perfect the art of the PR pitch is ongoing and as you can see, takes some serious time. Just keep in mind your target audience and how you would like to be approached as a reporter and you are well on your way.
What are your go-to tips for pitching your story?