Each day, assignment editors receive countless pitches from public relations professionals asking them to cover their stories. Do you know where your pitches end up once they hit an editor's inbox?
Here are some tips to keep them away from the trash bin:
1. Know your news stories from your feature stories.
While news is new and urgent, features are longer, narrative stories that are not usually as time-sensitive. You can spend a little more time getting to the point in a feature pitch; good feature pitches hook the editor. For news, however never wait until the third paragraph to get to the point. Instead, let the editor know all the newsworthy information quickly. If the editor has to go digging, odds are your pitch won’t survive.
2. Make sure all the news is there.
If you are writing a newsy pitch, give all the information upfront. Do not section off the who, what, where, when, why and how. Keep it all together in one paragraph. That makes it easier for the editor to understand all the information in order to make a judgment about the value of the news. In a news pitch that’s all over the place, you lose the editor's attention, and a great story risks becoming old news.
3. Keep your pitch concise.
The assignment editor does not have time to dig through your pitch to find gold. Get to the point. Long, dragging pitches get tossed, even if they are well written. Say everything you must in as few words as possible.
4. Include interview options and help the editor “see” the story.
Always help the editor where you can. The more you suggest to the editor to help him or her make sense of how to use your story, the better.
For example, give the editor an idea for an infographic he or she can make with your content or suggest that the story would be a great follow-up to another story the publication covered recently. In many cases, editors want from PR pitches the same thing they want from reporters' pitches: detail, and a sense of where the story would go in his or her publication. They want you to show rather than tell. Always, always offer to set up an interview before the editor asks. Editors are stressed, so the more work you do for the editor beforehand, the better.
5. Always reread before you send.
One grammatical error or typo can break down all of your credibility. Make sure your copy is absolutely clean to keep the editor from hitting any bumps in the road while reading your pitch. If the editor stumbles on a misspelled word, a misplaced comma or an unusual story structure, it could spell the end of your relationship. Most editors are nice, forgiving people, but they expect to deal with professionals. Remember that your pitch reflects on the type of story you want to tell. No one is perfect. We all use semicolons incorrectly sometimes, but please, do a re-read before you hit send.
6. Tell the editor why he or she should cover your story.
What is in it for the editor and his or her readers? Make sure that point is made clear in your pitch. The editor is only going to write or assign something that his or her readers are going to want to see. If the story is not relevant, it’s a lost cause. Tell the editor why they should care.
This was also posted on PR Daily.