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#PR: Personalize Your Way to a Better Pitch
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Lauren Winer, an account coordinator at Vantage PR, recently blogged about the power of a personalized approach to pitching to the media. Let’s face it; we all know that editors and journalists can be our worst enemies or our best friends. It all has to do how we pitch our stories to them, is the central theme of her piece.

She notes: “When writing email pitches, it’s important to keep in mind that editors get bombarded with thousands of emails, many of which are of little to no interest to them. So it’s your job to prove to them why your company and what you have to say is interesting, important and newsworthy. Personalized pitches show editors that you’ve considered their interests and taken the time to get their attention.”

So, what’s the secret to grabbing an editor or journalist’s attention right away? Ms Winer suggests:

1. Make the subject line of your email pitch personal.
This is so simple, yet can sink your chances before your email itself is even read. Nothing makes an editor or journalist sit up and take notice better than if you show you understand their work and their busy schedule. Ms Winer suggests either putting the contact’s name in the subject line or refer to something that editor or journalist produced that’s relevant to your client. As she says, “When an editor sees 'Saw your recent blog post on iOS 9,' they know that you’ve read their work, understand their points and have a relevant comment or suggestion."
2. Refer to their recent coverage or topic area.
This offers you a chance to do follow up on the piece the editor or journalist authored, offer a different viewpoint, or even offer to help expand their story. Ms Winer gave a brilliant example of how this works:

“For example, when the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years struck, the PR team for Real Medicine Foundation saw this as an opportunity to target people that were covering the news and let them know that RMF’s relief efforts were in full force. The team personalized each pitch based on the editor’s coverage of the earthquake, and the editors responded. These pitches resulted in coverage in top publications like Time, WIRED and two articles in NPR. Referencing coverage goes for social media posts as well. You can often refer to an editor’s tweets to get a better sense of their interests, both personal and professional, so use this to your advantage. If you find you have a similar interest (and the pitch allows), use that as an opportunity to make a personal connection. Sometimes we forget, but editors are people too!”

3. Don’t forget the follow-up after the pitch.
Personalizing your email pitches can be a fantastic way to start building relationships with the media. Of course, if you are a consummate flack already, you should already have solid relationships with the media. Still, keeping in touch after the pitch and particularly when the pitch gets placed is important. Be sure to thank the editor for running your pitch or piece, since this helps make you stand out in the forest of competing pitches for that editor’s attention. And, while you are at it, don’t be afraid to alert that contact to an article that’s relevant to the coverage area, even if it does not directly involve your client. And be sure to keep that editor in the loop with regards to any extra news that directly impacts your client or coverage area.
As Ms Winer noted: “Personalized email pitches are a great way to start and cultivate relationships with the media, so use these guidelines to make your pitches stand out from the rest.”

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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