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In our digital world of divided attention, you have to make your case in the blink of an eye, or risk being ignored.

Research says that your first impression of somebody is made within the first seven seconds. The same thing goes for when you are pitching content to a journalist. And let’s not forget that you’re also competing with the other messages screaming in their inbox.

So how do you make your pitch standout to a reporter, but also provide them with the necessary content they need? Oh, and it also has to be succinct? That can be tricky.

Taking it back to Public Relations (PR) 101, a reminder that your email pitch is what you write in the body of your email when you’re sending an abstract of an article you’d like published. Keep in mind that your abstract is a first glimpse of the topic you’re proposing and is at the heart of your pitch. Make sure it’s clear, concise and compelling. You’ll paste your abstract into the body of your email.

Now, on to the email pitch itself. The pitch is all about getting the reporter’s attention and making the “sale.” It goes without saying that this email should be professional with no typos, emojis, or too many exclamation points, bold, italics, etc. This can come across as tacky and diminish the impact of the content.

The anatomy of a successful pitch

To create a solid pitch, first start with a subject line that is catchy, brief, and timely (if your abstract is tied into recent news or events). Avoid trying to trick reports by typing in “Re:” like you have already corresponded or making the subject line gimmicky like, “Don’t miss this – check inside!”

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After a short greeting (Hi NAME, works just fine), get right to business and establish yourself and your subject matter expert as a credible source. Share a little bit of your SME’s background to validate the person’s expertise. This will give your abstract more authority and credibility. Be sure to include that person’s name, title, company, and a link to their LinkedIn profile (Pro Tip: their LinkedIn profile must be current!).

After introducing the expert, next introduce the content idea and be sure to do it in a way that gives the reporter a reason to care about what you’re pitching.

For example, “Hi Reporter X, I’ve included an abstract on the following because wearable technology is a hot topic and (insert expert’s name here) has a different point of view about using it in the fitness industry.”

Or, keep it timely. Perhaps you’re pitching for a financial services client, you could include something like: “With the Presidential Inauguration behind us, this article digs into the President’s first 100 days and what his executive orders and upcoming plans mean to the financial industry.”

Next, paste your abstract into the email body and never include it as an attachment. Reporters are bombarded with emails and hate having to click on something that could potentially contain a virus. Attachments often go straight to spam—if they even make it into their inbox at all!

Be sure to close your pitch by thanking the person for their time and that you’ll plan to follow-up in a few days.

Just before you hit send, WAIT! There’s more!

Timing is everything

Before you get carried away and hit send, hold up: timing is crucial to your pitching success.

Here are some best practices to follow when you’re deciding when to email your pitch:

  • Contact reporters when email traffic is slow, such as early in the morning or late at night.
  • Send your pitch on a Friday morning because reporters’ deadlines are usually Thursdays at the close of business. Reporters often spend Fridays catching up and planning their stories for the following week.
  • Avoid sending your email when it’s likely to get lost in a flooded inbox, like the Thursday before or a Tuesday after a long weekend or during an industry conference or holiday. (The exception is if your product/service is related to an industry event and it can get some traction that way.)
  • Make a calendar of all of the major conferences related to your field and use those as potential times to avoid or to take advantage of.
  • Set reminders in your calendar to remember to email reporters at the most optimal times. This applies to your follow-up emails too.

Because you may only have seven seconds to capture a reporter’s interest, it’s worth it to take your time to carefully craft your pitch and consider when it’s best to send. A strategically delivered pitch gets you one giant step closer to hitting your publishing goals out of the park.

As you ramp up your own authority and credibility for your practice and your own clients, consider joining the waitlist for my new LinkedIn Learning course called “How to Build Your Own PR Practice.” To be added to the waitlist and receive news when the course is launched, please click here.