Mastering Personalization in Media Pitching

By Erika Yanez

Building relationships with media is one of the many important components to securing amazing press. When conducting media outreach for startups, Startr Co. has taken a personalized and strategic approach that contributes to our success on behalf of clients.

Establishing a good rapport with an editor provides you with credibility as a PR professional, establishes a great representation between the agency and the media outlet, and also allows you to become a vital source for stories where the media contact will come to you for input. So how do you go from being another unread email to an editor’s BFF?

Editors receive hundreds of emails per day so the likelihood of your email being lost in their inbox is pretty darn high. Here are some ways to get yourself noticed and break through the clutter of an editor’s inbox:

Research your contact.

Taking the extra step to read previous articles that media contact has written will tell you a lot about the topics that they cover and will be a clear indication of whether they could potentially cover your pitch or product. Checking out their social media profiles is also a great way to learn about the editor’s interests and you never know what sort of useful nuggets of information you’ll come across on their Twitter feed or Instagram bio.

Use one-to-one communication.

E-mail blasts, mail merging, or copy and pasting a press release are all great methods to increase your chances of your email being deleted. Instead, carefully craft your pitch so that it's suited for each recipient. When pitching the media contact, keep their audience and coverage preferences top of mind.

Why, hello there!

A simple hello or compliment on their work can go a long way in the PR for Startups world, even if you don’t have something to pitch. Congratulating the media contact on their recent promotion, sending them a thank you card when they have produced an amazing press placement for you, or even retweeting their articles will get you noticed. In no time, you’ll become a familiar name in their inbox and striking up a conversation with them will come naturally.

Be honest.

As a media relations representative on behalf of your client, maintaining the utmost integrity is crucial to keeping a happy and healthy reciprocal relationship with your media contact. Be honest and respectful at all times, even if the press piece never makes it to being published. Otherwise, you run the risk of tarnishing your relationship with that contact and will have to start new relationships from scratch with other editors.

Remember to check in.

Regularly following up on pitches that you have sent will, without a doubt, increase your chances of being covered. Being persistent and following up with new ideas will hopefully spark interest from the editor and encourage coverage.

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of how to get noticed, here are some ways that you can perfect personalization within your pitches:

Proofreading is your friend.

Let’s face it, we are all human and make mistakes but nothing is more embarrassing than sending an email to a media contact with the wrong name, or even worse, the classic “Hi XX, I saw that you recently covered [INSERT STORY] for [INSERT OUTLET] and thought you might be interested in [INSERT CLIENT NAME].” Slow down, take a breath, and proofread all outgoing pitches to ensure accuracy and eliminate any errors that could potentially make or break your success in gaining media interest. Before you hit ‘send’ make sure that you’ve conducted a spelling and grammar check, included their name, and double checked any references (outlets, articles, etc.). You’ll thank us later!

Catchiness is key.

The subject line of your pitch should always be eye-catching and interesting. This is the first thing that an editor will read when your lovely little pitch appears in their inbox so it’s best to make it short and to the point. Fun tip: Try using an editor’s headline of a relevant story as your subject line. A familiar headline might entice them to open your email.

Cut to the chase.

Simple greetings within the introduction of your email such as “I hope all is well!” or “I hope you had a nice weekend!” can come across as vague or make you appear to be fake. The editor will spend no more than 20 seconds reading your pitch so while you are 100% a nice person and genuinely hope that they are having a fabulous week so far, you don’t want to waste precious time on words that don’t necessarily mean anything. Having a compelling and concise pitch that is to the point speaks volumes.

Let me cater to you.

Let us preface this by saying that referring to a specific article is a great way to engage with the editor but a way to really show that you’ve done your research to identify a common theme or specific beat that they cover and make that reference in the opening sentence of your pitch.

Instead of: I read your article “Travel Essentials for the Holiday Season: What Not to Leave Home Without” and thought you might be interested in my travel accessory client.

Try: I noticed your coverage on easy and convenient travel items and as such, I wanted to get another great travel brand on your radar that is making trekking across the world with your family a breeze.

See what we did there? While the first example refers to the relevant article that the editor wrote, the second example calls out the generalized topic that the editor frequently covers and provided a short but interesting description of the client without giving too much away.

Additionally, our good friend and PR expert, Michael Smart, has also suggested that mentioning the editor’s most recent article can often come across as not having done enough research on what they cover. Be sure to do a deeper dive into multiple articles that the editor has written, especially if they are a freelancer.

Congratulations, you have 99 problems but pitch personalization ain’t one! Now that we’ve shared our tips on mastering pitch personalization, we challenge you to apply these methods to your new-and-improved pitches. Share your experience with us in the comments!

Happy pitching,

Erika Yanez

Account Executive

Erika is a seasoned public relations professional with a demonstrated history of working in the apparel, consumer goods, franchise, food and beverage industries. She has worked with both startups and high-end brands and brings a wealth of information and expertise in creating brand awareness