Whether you have a desire to get press coverage online, in print or even appear on radio or TV, getting media coverage isn’t a matter of simply creating a press release or media kit. Pitching is an art form. A pitch that works for one media outlet, may not work for another outlet.

Critical success factors for writing a good pitch email are timeliness, relevance, clarity and a compelling story angle. So, before you click “send” on your email pitch, here are five questions you should ask before pitching a journalist:

1. Have I included a possible story angle within my pitch? 

A story angle is a theme or point of view and it could make or break the success of your pitch. It should demonstrate value for the media outlet’s audience. You can have several different angles to your brand story or even a single event. To identify story angles:

    • “Be a resource, not a sales pitch.” Ask yourself: How does my story angle help the publication’s audience?
    • Use the calendar as your guide. Connect your story idea with holidays, current events, survey results trends, or even a writer’s recent article.
    • Do a Google search for the editorial calendar of the publication and check out their monthly topics.

2. Is my email pitch clear, concise, and to the point?

Nowadays, skim reading is the new normal. Plus, most people read emails from their cell phones, so make your pitch easy to read. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

    • Get to the point within the first 2 – 3 sentences. Beyond including your story angle in the first two sentences, explain how your product or service solves a key customer pain point. Ultimately, stick to the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story.
    • Avoid clichés (e.g., moving the needle, visionary), buzzwords, or jargon. Don’t just say your product is unique or innovative; explain what makes it different in one clear sentence.
    • Aim to write an email pitch that’s less than 200 words.   

3. Did I write an attention-grabbing email subject line?

A journalist can receive anywhere from 20 – 100 email pitches per day, so while writing a relevant email pitch is key, people decide whether to open an email based on the subject line alone.

    • Avoid spammy subject lines such as “Re:” or “Fwd:”
    • Stick to mobile-friendly subject lines (e.g., 33 and 43 characters)
    • Avoid including the title of your press release in your subject line. This sends the signal that you’re sending a mass email — which is a top pet peeve for many journalists, producers, etc.   

4. Did I summarize my email with a call to action?

When you’re finished writing your pitch, what do you want the recipient to do? What actions do you want them to take? I love ending my emails with a question to signal a response from the recipient.

Here are a few examples:

    • Can I send you some samples of {name of product} for review?
    • Are you interested in interviewing {first, last name}…about how our company {story angle}?
    • Would you like to receive an exclusive preview of the book before its release? If so, please respond to this email with an address, so I can send you a copy today.
    • Are you interested in including our {product name} as part of a lineup (e.g., Holiday Gift Guide, yearly trends to watch)?

5. Did I proofread my pitch?

Raise your hand, if you’ve ever hit “send” too soon on an email? No worries, it happens to the best of us. To avoid this common mistake when writing emails, instead of including the recipient’s name in the “To:” field, include it in the body of the email, that way it serves as a reminder to proofread your pitch before you click “send.” Additionally:

    • Use Grammarly.com to check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. 
    • Make sure to spell the writer’s name correctly. 
    • Check to make sure any links (e.g., website links, press releases, photos) included in the body of your email works. Also, avoid email attachments —sometimes email programs recognize emails with attachments as spam or if the photos are too large, some email programs may block your email.