A 5-Step Guide to Pitching Like a PR Pro

What makes the perfect pitch? This question continues to puzzle the minds of many PR professionals throughout their careers, because, unlike other art forms, pitching isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. And thank goodness it isn’t! If there was a simple x + y equation we could plug in to guarantee a 100% open email rate on all of our pitches, we’d be out of our jobs. And until ChatGPT figures out how to do that, we as PR professionals, must do our due diligence to perfect this practice.

While there are no formulas involved, there are definitely specific components that can either make or break our ability to cut through and land a story – and it overall boils down to “3” fundamental winning “Ws”:

1. WHY should the reader care?

Just as our dynamic news cycle changes each day and inundates our feeds with attention-grabbing headlines, our pitches should elicit the same sense of urgency. A few questions to consider before crafting a pitch are: Is this topic timely? Am I offering a new source of valuable information (i.e. research/data)? Does my client have a unique perspective on a topical industry trend that hasn’t been illuminated before? The most fundamental “w” to a winning pitch is the “why” – because without it, you don’t have a story at all.

2. WHO is my key audience?

If you engage reporters with tunnel vision with the end goal of landing that perfect headline or executive feature - you’re doing a great disservice to your media relations efforts. All touchpoints with media contacts should ladder back to a relationship that is built on trust, rather than transactions. At the end of the day, journalists aren’t here to sell your client. Their utmost priority is to be an unbiased source of information to their audience – and they welcome any resources that can help them do their jobs better. Before reaching out, you should have a fine-tuned pulse on the types of stories they cover, and the kind of experts they are looking for. You should also have an understanding of who their core audience is, to ensure that you are providing the best value.

Are their stories focused on investors, C-Suite IT decision-makers, or CMO readers? What do those readers need to know about a specific topic or trend that they may be overlooking? How can your client be a valuable source of information to enlighten them on industry challenges and opportunities?

3. WHY is my client the best source for this story?

As public relations professionals, we're close enough to our clients to have a core understanding of who they are and how they’re reshaping their respective industries. But this isn’t always crystal clear to journalists. While you should be aware of all of these amazing proof points that demonstrate the value of your client (e.g. any amount of funding raised, a roster of notable customers, compelling research) you’ll need to explicitly highlight these results in the body of your pitch, to validate your client as an expert, and reputable source of information.

Okay, so now that you’ve got the essentials down, the rest of the pitch is all about presentation. A few other meaningful tips to keep in mind are:

4. Keep your pitches short & concise

You may think you're busy as a PR professional, but I can guarantee that journalists have a fraction of the time that you do, so you’ll need to grab their attention fast. A good rule of thumb is to keep pitches around 150 words to ensure that they don’t get shoved in the pile of “forgotten forever” emails at first glance, never to be opened again.

5. End with a call to action

The way you end a pitch is equally as important as how you begin. You may have sold the story to the journalist, but your job is only halfway done. Always be sure to close out your email with an urgent call-to-action such as an offer to set up a briefing, to ensure that your pitch makes its way out of the inbox and into a media interview and story.

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Post Author

Bryanna Walley
Bryanna Walley is a Senior Account Executive, working with clients in areas including influencer marketing, AI and HR tech. Bryanna's love for writing drew her to PR, and she is currently working on a book that she plans to self-publish. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Penn State University.

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