Three Key Elements of a Good Pitch
Sometimes, I’ll get asked about how to pitch stories. I started freelancing, bouncing between moonlighting and full-time freelancing, ever since I graduated from Columbia College in December 2014. In that time, I’ve written for various local and national publications, ranging from Crain’s Chicago Business and Chicago Magazine to Vogue.com and The New York Times.
The first national story I did was for The New York Times, which was intimidating but ultimately successful. Essentially, I applied the same principles to that pitch as I do to any other pitch. I try to put together the following elements of a pitch. Whether you’re pitching locally or nationally, you should always consider these when crafting your pitch:
Why should people care? When pitching, this should be the first question that you ask yourself. I receive so many pitches from public relations professionals that thinly veiled attempts to get publicity for their clients without any solid newsworthiness. You don’t want to waste an editor’s time with an uninteresting pitch or bore readers with a bland story. What is it about this story that would attract readers? Does it contradict conventional wisdom? Does it involve someone famous or politically important? Is it exclusive information that no one else has access to but would be of interest to the public? Be sure to emphasize the newsworthiness in your pitch.
Why are we covering this story now? Timely stories work better for online, and stories with a longer lead time are better for print publications. Explain to your editor why they need to cover this story now. It may help to note the timeliness of the pitch in the subject line of your email.
What is it about this story that will particularly captivate readers? Are there compelling characters? What will keep readers interested in this story from beginning to end? Is there tension? Think about how you can convey a compelling narrative into your pitch.
Pitching is tough. Not every pitch lands the first time around, but you can always try again with another outlet. This year I’m working with writers one-on-one on their pitches. If you’re looking to craft better pitches this year, let’s collaborate!
What are your pitching tips and tricks? Let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.