When you first start your company, you want to grow it. You want to get results as quickly as you possibly can. However, like everything that you need to work at, it takes time. You may not have the revenue to create exposure for your business, but once you learn how to pitch, things will work out in an effective way.
What is a cold email?
You’ve got to start somewhere right? Email pitches are messages that are sent out without any previous relationship or conversation with the journalists or media outlet you’re writing to. It can be harder than most communication because you don’t have a prior relationship yet and you lack non-verbal feedback, so you can’t modify your approach.
Even so, email pitching is a crucial part of effective media outreach. Lots of people and startups have been launched through cold emails. Not a lot of research has been done about the effectiveness of cold emailing but, from what has been shown is that an effective cold email does these things:
- Tailor the message to the recipient
- Validate itself
- Focuses on the needs and wants of its audience
- Stays short, easy, and actionable
- Is appreciative
1) Tailor the message to the recipient
Much like everything else, you need to do your research. When it comes to cold emails, you need to personalize the email as much as you can. This shows the journalist that you have thought about who they are, how they see the world, what interests them and what they want. It also shows that you have put work into understanding them.
You need to include why you are emailing them and not anyone else. People are more motivated to help others if they feel like they are uniquely qualified for the task and by telling them exactly where they fit in, you can tell a story that makes sense to them.
2) Get some social proof
When we meet strangers, we want to get to know them. The same thing applies when you send an email pitch to people you don’t know. However, in this case YOU are the stranger. Do the research on the people that you are emailing. Since they don’t know anything about you, in order to show a journalist that they can trust you, and you’re running a credible business, you need to get some social proof.
One way that you can do that is to mention someone or something that you might have in common because it shows that you are no longer a stranger; there is a direct connection with them. However, if you also have any authority, credibility, or social status that might be relevant to the media outlet you are talking to, that helps as well. The more “important” you are, the more likely you are to get a response. But if you don’t, being part of the same industry and group is also an important connection. You can look for unexpected connections to bond.
3) Focus on what they need
If you have figured out a problem that the journalist’s audience might have, you can try and solve the problem with your product or service. If you can solve a problem, you can also give people something that they want. However, whatever you decide to provide needs to feel appropriate to the situation.
It’s important to keep in mind that what you consider interesting news won’t necessarily be interesting to a journalist. Before you even start writing your pitch, you need to define your story and make sure it’s newsworthy. Journalists won’t waste time writing a story that doesn’t matter to their audiences. For this reason, when you’re developing your story and crafting different story angles, you need to consider what kind of outlet your target journalist writes for as well as what kind of stories their audience likes. For example, the general public is unlikely to be interested in the new CEO you’ve hired, unless they’re from a renown university or a huge company. On the other hand, if your news affects your local community then you should definitely share this with the local press, because this is something their audience will be interested in.
4) Keep it short, easy and actionable
Shorter emails are more likely to be read than long ones. This is even more so the case for emails that request clear, specific actions. One of the best ways to keep it short and simple is to write the way that you would talk. Make it sounds as natural as possible. Do as much work for your audience as you can. This makes them exert a certain amount of mental energy in making a decision that would be beneficial for the both of you. Ultimately, give them the final decision depending on how you have presented yourself.
5) Be appreciative
You need to remember that you are asking someone who does not know you to do you a favor. If you were to express gratitude and vulnerability, then you would make them feel good about helping you. This sounds like groveling, but it actually generates results.
Putting the ball in their court actually doubles response rates because you are thanking them for their time and effort. Thanking them for their time and acknowledging that they are busy people makes them more open to helping you
Key Components to writing the perfect pitch
- The body of email is short but personalized
- The subject line is concise, but able to attract the reporter to open the email
- Addresses the reporter by name
- Sent to relevant journalists who write about your topic.
- If you already have a relationship and ready to pitch a story, you can explain why your press release would be beneficial to their publication
- Holds an emotional hook for reporters, so they want more information.
- Don’t use buzzwords
Tips to help your startup get noticed
When you first start out, it is important to spot your ideal journalists so that you’re sending your emails to the right people. You want to make sure that you are finding the relevant journalists for your company. You can do that by following industry-related publications, searching on search engines or even better, asking Pressfarm to build a curated media list for you.
Before you even send an email, you need to do your research. You need to have prior knowledge about the audience and market you are trying to emerge in. Try and talk to other writers and gain all the knowledge you can.
In today’s world of journalism, it is important to have a social presence because everything is shared and posted through social media these days. You can even build relationships with journalists by following their profiles and offering comments on their articles in addition to sending cold emails.
Time to write
When it comes time to writing, it is important that you make a good impression. You need to keep your subject line short, concise and specific. Stay personal and don’t write like a robot. Just get straight into your story and don’t waste time on useless information. Use the 5 Ws as a guideline for your story.
Since journalists get so many pitches and emails daily, your pitch needs to be short and concise. Use your own words and tell your story, appeal to the journalist’s emotion.
Another way to attract media outlets is to add visually appealing content to your pitch. For example, you can create video pitches with photos and graphics to build visual interest.
Ultimately, you want to be professional while keeping your tone friendly and engaging. Ideally, you should finish your email with a question because it invites a reply and it initittes interest.
If writing this pitch seems scary, you should know that Pressfarm has cold email pitch templates you can learn or borrow from.
The Pitch Itself
The important thing is that when you pitch, you need to create something worth mentioning. It takes effort to broadcast news to people, so your news needs to be important. You also need to realize that it is a two-way street, you need to not only think of what the media outlets are doing for you, but also consider what you are doing for them.
Highlight the value of your news in your pitch because this is what will attract the press. Try and be yourself as much as possible and remember that people like to be spoken to not only with respect but also in a language that they understand. Write and talk how you normally would if you talked to your family and friends.
To gain Maximum Impact
It is important that you pitch the right story at the right time, which means that you need to keep your emails up to date. It is also important that you personalize each email because no media outlet wants to be seen as a number. Personalizing your emails will create more interest. This is because it will make them more interested if they see that you really want to work with them and not just picking the one that gives you easier access.
You also need to give them advance notice because they plan what stories they’re going to cover months in advance. Finally, avoid simple mistakes when writing an email or pitch because you could lose credibility and they don’t want to spend too much time fixing mistakes that you could have easily fixed yourself.
It is important that you are patient, but you have to ride the fine line between being persistent and being annoying. Give your contacts time to read what you have sent to them. If they haven’t sent a response, wait a few days to reach out again. If they say they are not interested, let them be and email other journalists.
You can also use other mediums to get your idea across. Do not underestimate current non-traditional ways of communication because they can help you in the long run.
Writing the perfect pitch is a work in progress. It is something that you keep learning. It takes some serious time and effort, but if you understand the audience you are trying to target and the things you can do to stand out from the competition, you will do a great job.
Cold email pitching can be tough, but keeping in mind the basics will get you a long way. Keep things personal and make sure to include all the necessary information that will benefit you, the media outlets, and your audience because they need to know that you will go over and beyond compared to your competitors. Pay attention to every aspect of your email pitch from the introduction, the body, and the signature. Detailed information and a well-constructed signature can help get more traction and have a higher chance of getting read.
Do you need help doing targeted pitching for your brand? The PR team at Pressfarm can take some of the pressure off you by building curated media lists for you. Together with our database of over 1 million media contacts, our media lists are designed to help you to connect with the best journalists in your niche. In addition to helping with your media outreach, we can help you create content that can capture media attention. With a professional press release, some guest posts and a creative media kit, your brand will have what it takes to make a memorable impression in your industry. Sign up for these services and more today.