Overlooked steps to tie into breaking news

If you’re like most people in my training audiences, you’re familiar with the concept of newsjacking, but believe you can’t apply it.

Yes, most organizations or clients move too creaky slow to get approvals inside a given news cycle. But there is a workaround!

Crafting a “resource” pitch template well beforehand allows you to pitch journalists minutes after relevant news breaks.

Writing the perfect resource pitch requires you to put each component in precisely the right spot. Here’s what that looks like:

Subject Line

Tell the reporter exactly what you’re offering in clear terms. For instance, “B-roll of new Alzheimer’s drug.” This should be clear and direct. This is not the place for creativity or puns. (Is there ever a good place for puns?)

1st Paragraph

State why you’re reaching out right now by quickly referencing the news that just broke. “The FDA’s anticipated approval of the new drug to treat Alzheimer’s means the first doses will likely be administered to patients this week.”

Be careful not to dial up the drama in this first sentence. If you’re pitching the right person, they’re familiar with this space, and they understand what this news means, without your urgent or dramatic editorializing. This is the sentence (or two) that you will tweak, while leaving the rest of the pitch mostly the same.

2nd Paragraph

Offer a resource that will help them write a story about the breaking news you mentioned in paragraph one. This could be an expert, video, stats, real people to interview.

3rd Paragraph

Explain why your resource is valuable in the context of the breaking news. If you’re offering an expert, include a bullet-point list of specifics that your source can talk about right now.

Call to Action

Close your pitch with a direct CTA. Do you want the journalist to interview your source? Ask them “Would you like me to set up an interview?” Want them to use your stats? Ask them “Can I send you more stats?”

Create this template beforehand, and when relevant news breaks, all you need to do is update the first paragraph of your pitch and you’re ready to send.

For maximum success, follow this template as precisely as possible and resist the urge to add extraneous information. By putting the right information in exactly the right place, you help busy journalists find what they’re looking for fast.

I’ve seen Inner Circle members apply this template successfully over and over – when you find the right application and line up the right resources, all you do is wait for the news to break.

Thoughts on using ChatGPT to help with this piece

The content of this email is WAY too specific to turn this over to AI. I’m a big advocate for using AI to streamline your work, but writing stuff that requires high subject-matter expertise is not a good use case. Save AI for the routine, repetitive writing tasks you wish you had a junior staffer to delegate to. Not the pieces like this that showcase your special knowledge.

I did, however, run my final draft through ChatGPT-4 with my copyediting prompt. It caught a subject-verb agreement issue that somehow eluded Word’s grammar checker, yet it also flagged another sentence that wasn’t actually incorrect. I also used my tweet-writing prompt on it, and this time the results sounded like they were written by the hype man I don’t have. Full of exclamations and emojis. That hasn’t happened before, but it was easily corrected with a one-sentence redirect: “Tone down the hype and enthusiasm. No emojis or exclamations.”

This article was originally published on September 28, 2023

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