Leave bad PR in 2018: how to create the perfect outreach email

Zoe Schofield

Acting Head of Digital PR

Digital PR

You’re promoting a PR campaign. The story is great, the onsite content is link-worthy, and yet weeks roll by with minimal links, or even coverage, to show for it.

Sound familiar?

If your campaign is genuinely worth covering (and it’s always worth double checking that it’s not just you or your client who would be interested in the story), the lack of results is probably due to your outreach technique.

Journalists and newsrooms can get upwards of hundreds of pitch emails a day. There will be times when you read a story online and are shocked that this was covered, but your campaign wasn’t. The reason? They pitched it better than you did.

There are only three rules when it comes to creating the perfect outreach email:

  1. Do your research
  2. Keep it brief
  3. Tailor your pitch

Do your research

Tempting as it is to go for a ‘more is more’ approach and send out blanket emails to every journalist under the sun in the hope that someone will cover your story, it’s not advisable.

Every single person on your media list should be on there for a reason. Maybe the publication has a regular feature that your story would work well in, or perhaps you know the journalist routinely covers the topic in question. If the journalist isn’t interested in the story, or the story doesn’t work well in the publication, it won’t get covered – wasting your time, and their time, and increasing the likelihood that they will delete your next pitch email without even reading it.

When building a media list, ensure there is a reason for adding each and every person on there. It’s more time-consuming than downloading pre-made lists from Cision (or any PR database tool) but will cut down the time it takes to get links once your campaign promotion has begun.

Keep it brief

Journalists and newsroom emails can get upwards of hundreds of pitch emails a day. Most adhere to reading every single email that lands in their inbox, but it means they have limited time for each email. You need to ensure that your story and news hook can be identified in just a quick glance, if your email is to get further attention. Bullet points, or using bold, underline or italics, to emphasise strong statistics, can make it easier for journalists to pinpoint the basis of the story, and decide from there if it’s worth exploring further.

Tailor your pitch

No two publications will cover the same story in the same way, so you shouldn’t be pitching it the same way to everyone you contact. A good story will have multiple angles that are worth covering – it’s your job to pick which is the best angle for the publication and present it to them in a way that resonates. Journalists can spin any story to make it fit for their readers, but they’re short on time; delivering the goods in an easy to unpackage way makes their job (and your job of getting coverage) easier.

Below is an example of how we’ve adapted the angle of our client’s story to reflect the publication we pitched to:

Pitching to a HR magazine:

Pitching to a women’s lifestyle magazine:

Everything from the subject line, to the hook, to the statistics you share, should be tailored exactly for the person and publication you’re pitching to. It’s more time-consuming, of course, but such a targeted approach has a higher chance of getting results. Plus, your media list is likely to be smaller than if you had opted for a ‘contact everyone even if they’re not relevant’ approach to outreach, so you have time to spare.

PR is extremely competitive nowadays. A good story will get good coverage, but only if it’s sold in to the right person. Creating well-researched media lists, and outreaching using a targeted, tailored pitch, will ensure that your story gains the links and coverage it deserves.

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