Pitching 101: Tips from Muck Rack and MDC Partners

Pitching Tips

Media relations is a fundamental and highly valued element of virtually all public relations campaigns. With such an important emphasis placed on this tactic, understanding how to successfully pitch and interact with journalists are invaluable skills for all PR professionals. Recently, Muck Rack paired up with MDC Partners and surveyed nearly 25,000 journalists and PR pros about their pitching and social media preferences, and uncovered some interesting statistics to help public relations practitioners navigate the complex world of media relations.
Muck Rack and MDC shared their findings in a webinar earlier this week. Check out some of their takeaways below and learn how you can use the insights to develop meaningful relationships with journalists and secure coverage for your clients.
When it comes to social media, Twitter is king for journalists. Of those who responded, 93% said that they appreciate when communications professionals follow them on social media. Sure, this increases their number of followers (and who wouldn’t love that!), but it also provides a meaningful space for engaging with fellow professionals, and gives PR pros the opportunity to get a better understanding of what journalists typically write about. Listen to conversations taking on place on Twitter to develop a deeper understanding of the industry you represent. Twitter also provides a more personal glimpse inside journalists’ professional lives. Understanding the full scope of a writer’s interests and industry enables you to better personalize the pitch, which may increase the chances of them responding and writing about your client.
Now that you have a solid understanding of the journalist’s beat and the type of stories they write, it’s time to craft the pitch. Muck Rack’s findings indicate that a majority of reporters prefer pitches that are 2-3 paragraphs (59.1%). Less than 5% prefer pitches that are 500+ words, so err on the side brevity when it comes to crafting the perfect email.
After you’ve whittled down the pitch to the perfect length and determined how to best address the journalist, don’t make the devastating mistake of sending a blanket pitch to everyone on your media list. 28% of journalists say the biggest factor that makes them immediately reject a pitch is lack of personalization. Simply including their name in the subject line or introduction isn’t enough–relate your pitch to recent articles they’ve written and show that you’ve paid attention to them on a deeper level to avoid getting written off at first glance.
While Twitter is a valuable tool for journalists and PR pros, email still reigns supreme when it comes to receiving pitches. While 140 characters is great for sharing short bits of information, it’s limiting when it comes to crafting a more detailed story and providing background information. An overwhelming majority (92.8%) of reporters say they prefer email to social media correspondence. While email may seem less personal than a phone call or DM on Twitter, only 9% of journalists said they don’t respond to emails from people they don’t know, so be persistent in your outreach and work hard to build relationships and turn that 9% into 0%!
What do you want to be doing on a Friday between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.? Probably not reading work emails. Don’t worry, you’re not alone–journalists don’t want to be reading your emails then either! Plan on pitching between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. before reporters get busy writing the day’s news or sent out on assignment. Don’t risk missing out on securing a great piece of coverage simply because of your timing, which is something that you can easily control.
What’s your go-to pitching strategy? Let us know on Twitter, and check out more of our advice here.
Bristol Whitcher

BIG fish PR is an unconventional agency that helps its clients redefine their industries.