Part 5: Getting media savvy – How do you pitch a story idea to a journalist via email?

How many emails to you get a day? Ten? Twenty? More than fifty? Hundreds? Of these, how many of them do you actually read? It is not at all unusual for journalists to receive more than 50 (and often hundreds of) emails a day from people who want to get their story heard – that is, from people just like you! This means that it’s imperative that you know how to draft an email to a journalist that will actually get read.

This is the final post in our media series. If you missed any of them or want to refresh your memory, you can read them here:

As we’ve already explained, because of the sheer number of phone calls and emails journalists receive on a daily basis, it can be difficult to reach journalists or grab their attention. Many of them get their calls screened or only read the first couple of lines of emails so that they have more time to actually produce the news and features! This means that any emails you send to journalists need to be well thought out.

Here are a few pointers to remember when drafting emails for journalists:

  1. Keep it short. Journalists don’t have time to read everything you have to say in an email! The key is to get your main idea across in a few succinct paragraphs, and if they’re interested they can contact you for more information.
  2. Make your email subject line stand out. Be careful to not make it sound like an advertisement though.
  3. Provide adequate contact information and be accessible. All media outlets work to a deadline, so if you don’t respond to their requests in a timely fashion, they might decide not to run the story and they probably won’t want to deal with you in the future.

You can use the following template as a guide:

Dear Journalist (if you can’t address it to someone personally, put ‘To the Editor’ or ‘Hello’),

I saw your recent story on [mention the topic of a recent article or story the journalist has done] OR it’s almost time for [mention another newsworthy angle e.g. a special date that’s approaching], and I thought you might be interested in hearing about a XYZ [insert brief description that indicates the type of business or what makes it different] business called [introduce your business and story idea].

*Note, a good PR agency will tailor an email introduction to your business/news and make it much more punchy than this, but this is a good starting point for DIY PR.

My name is [include a brief introduction to yourself, how you got involved with the business/issue, and what topics you’d be able to discuss if the journalist wants to interview you].

Conclude by offering an interview, advice article, case study or more information (depending on what you are pitching). If relevant you can offer to send them high-resolution photos or coordinate for them to send a photographer.

Finally, make sure your contact details are obvious and accurate so a journalist can reach you if they are interested in your pitch.

That wraps up our 5 part series designed to help you be more media savvy!

If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover, be sure to leave us a comment… or send an email.

Unlike some journalists, we don’t bite!

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