Media relations lessons learned from over five million pitches
One of the things I love about working at Hodges is the opportunity we have for ongoing professional development. In pre-COVID times, this meant attending conferences and various in-person trainings, but like many other things, a lot of our professional development has taken a virtual turn in the last year and a half.
Earlier this year with the support of Hodges, I joined media relations and writing coach Michael Smart’s Inner Circle, and I’ve found great value in the sessions and training that are provided through the program.
As a part of the Inner Circle, I recently tuned into a webinar presented by Michael Smart and Muck Rack breaking down lessons learned from analyzing over 5 million pitches sent between August 2020 and July 2021. Was the pitch opened? Did the journalist respond? What worked and what didn’t?
I’m sharing a few takeaways here from the webinar on media relations lessons learned – when to pitch, how many people to pitch, pitch format, subject lines and the art of following up.
When to send a media pitch?
- Pitch on Mondays, as this is when journalists typically get fewer pitches.
- Consider testing sending on Sunday afternoon or evenings, even if you schedule the send.
How many people should you pitch?
- Open rates drop as you add more recipients to your email.
- Once you send to more than 50 recipients, there’s really no difference if you go to 250.
- Open rates start to drop as soon as you send to more than one person on the “To” line!
- Many people take advantage of the BCC line to send a mass email, which can be okay in certain circumstances but it’s typically still best to individualize when you can.
Writing a good subject line for a media pitch
- Straightforward subject lines are best – journalists don’t like clickbait subject lines that might work in email marketing.
- Put the locale that you are pitching in subject line so journalists know right way it’s relevant to them.
- Consider sharing data in subject line – it’s not a requirement but if you have it, flaunt it. Keep in mind that spam filters can block things like dollar signs.
- There’s a formula for subject lines. Set subject into two words then follow with 8-10 simple words. For example, “New app: Designed to assist parents find childcare.”
- Longer subject lines perform just as well as shorter ones.
The best format for your media pitch
- A good pitch is a good pitch, regardless of length! That said, use bullets and avoid big blocks of text. You want the information you are presenting to be as digestible as possible.
- Add links to assets if available since embedded images don’t always show up.
- Avoid using “hope you are well” in start of email, especially with a new contact or a blast pitch. This is the number one thing journalists complain about in getting pitches. It is okay to use with someone you are *actually* friendly with!
When to follow-up on a media pitch?
- When following up, add some additional value – whether you are offering new photos or new information – make your follow-up worthwhile.
- Mass follow-ups, poorly targeted pitches and poorly timed pitches were the among the pitches that were most likely to not be opened at all.
A big shout out to Michael Smart and Muck Rack for the helpful session! What other media relations lessons learned would you add?