We’ve ruined the compliment approach to pitch introductions

You might not realize that the well-intentioned opening sentence of your email when pitching media might be backfiring.

You’ve heard it’s a good idea to start your pitch by referencing a reporter’s previous work.

And because you’re naturally a positive person, you likely say something nice about it. Like maybe:

“I am an avid reader of your column and have especially enjoyed your coverage of successful leaders – many of whom are inspirational to me.”

And because you’re honest, you actually DO read the column and you ARE inspired by it.

Problem is, too many other PR people have been pitching media with lines like that when they DON’T actually read the column. And the journalists can tell. So they can be dubious at times.

What’s happened is we have ruined the compliment as an opening when pitching media.

Okay, maybe not totally ruined it. There’s a simple way to preserve this approach.

We just need to be more specific so that our opening comment is credible.

Try this instead:

“I read [column name] every Monday morning after I catch up on email from the weekend. Was impressed – even inspired – by [column subject’s name] and [subject of different column].”

See the difference?

Sure, some journalists might say they’d rather get the news right away. But in practice, they get so many generic, irrelevant pitches that it’s a best practice to PROVE you read or watch their stuff right from the beginning.

This is on my mind because it was a recurring theme during the Q&A webinar I did with my Inner Circle members this week. Talking with them individually, I could hear their sincerity in their voices. But unfortunately while pitching media in a digital medium like email, such sentiment doesn’t always translate. So we worked on perfecting those customized introductions so they won’t be doubted.

Once you complete your specific and credible opening, then you transition into why your news is relevant enough to be appropriate, but different enough to justify further coverage. And that’s a topic for another post :).

This article was originally published on April 2, 2015

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