Public relations has followed a path similar to that of our everyday communications. Snail mail… phone… fax machine… email… and now 140-character tweets, texts and emoticons. With the availability of the Apple Watch (check out Rachel Tucker’s post about how the watch will change the media), we are cutting our communications even shorter, sending a heart instead of “I love you.”
A few weeks ago, reporter Chris Mims (Wall Street Journal) tweeted his kudos to a PR professional that sent him a one-line pitch.
I just got my first one-sentence pitch, and instinctively I responded right away. That, PR folks, is how it's done.
— Christopher Mims (@mims) May 8, 2015
One. Line. Pitch.
Reporters are busy people, and they are becoming busier – sometimes writing up to 10 articles each day. At InkHouse, we have built great relationships with many of the industry’s best reporters – but even our closest allies need us to cut to the chase.
So, if you have been banging your head against the wall trying to get reporters to pay attention to your story, listen up. (Before you start pitching, make sure you read Elizabeth Yekhtikian's post on what reporters want – direct from the reporters themselves). It’s true: some stories require more detail – and things like phone calls and in-person meetings should still be a part of your comprehensive media strategy. But, brevity is what it can take to get you in the door. Moreover, it shows your respect, appreciation and empathy for the reporters on the receiving end of countless pitches each day (especially in the wake of timely and breaking news).
Here are a few things to keep in mind to master the art of the short pitch:
1. Identify what you want/are offering. An interview, an in-person meeting, a contributed article, a slideshow? Don’t make them guess.
2. Use hyperlinks. If you’re offering an interview with an executive, for example, hyperlink to the expert. You don’t have to include everything upfront, but you do have to make it easy for the reporter to get more information if she/he is interested.
3. Think like a reporter. What is going to interest the specific reporter you are targeting? If it’s a conversation about why a technology hasn’t taken off yet, say so. If it’s commentary to a recent news article, be clear and concise about the executive’s unique perspective on that news.
4. Consider Twitter. Check out Kristen Raymaakers recent post for tips.
5. Cut – and then cut some more. What can the executive talk about? In one line, make it compelling and short – in both the body of the email and the subject line.
When it comes to media relations, there is no one size fits all. It’s our job to get to know reporters and their coverage areas, writing styles and what they typically include in their articles (e.g., vendor commentary, customer case studies, analysts, etc.). One way to make a reporter’s job as easy as possible is to let them spend their time where it matters – talking to the experts, not reading a verbose email about them.