6 COMMON MISTAKES COACHES MAKE WHEN PITCHING A JOURNALIST
by Simone Sauter
For coaches, starting a PR campaign can be a real learning experience. Coaches often come to PR with a set of expectations and misconceptions, including about how to write a pitch.
No matter how fantastic your story is, if mistakes are made when you write a pitch, it can affect your chances of PR success.
So, in this article, I want to share with you 6 common mistakes coaches make when pitching a journalist.
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PITCH MISTAKE #1 – YOUR PITCH HAS A BAD SUBJECT LINE
You might have the most amazing story to pitch, with lots of emotion and well-researched detail to immediately pique the interest of the journalist’s audience. But, in truth, it doesn’t matter how amazing your story is, your pitch will not get the journalist’s attention if the subject line sucks. It’s as simple as that.
Journalists get between 100 to 300 emails per day, depending on the media outlet. In some cases, they will receive far more emails than they can ever reasonably look at.
This is why when you write a pitch, you also need to craft an attention-grabbing subject line that will stand out to them as they’re scrolling through their inbox.
Some journalists may even delete emails if they look too much like spam – your subject line needs to compel them to read the full email.
PITCH MISTAKE #2 – YOU TALK ONLY ABOUT WHAT YOU OFFER
Mistake #2 is talking only about your products and services. As amazing as your coaching business is, a journalist isn’t interested in your services. If you want to talk only about your services, then what you need is advertising.
That’s one of the differences between PR and advertising – with advertising, you control the message. You pay advertisers to talk about your products.
PR doesn’t work that way. With PR, you build a relationship with journalists by sharing valuable content. Journalists are looking for stories, opinions, expertise – not a list of the services you offer.
The trick is to talk about your story, share your expertise, and then bridge back to your business. You can still say what you want to say to promote your business, but you need to learn the right way to do it.
If you just reach out to journalists and say, ‘I’ve launched a new service,’ or ‘I’ve written a new book,’ – they won’t be interested. They won’t even reply – your email will most likely be consigned immediately to the trash. At the most, you might receive an email from their advertising department, but that won’t promote you in the same way as PR.
Want to learn how to avoid these mistakes in your PR campaign, and write an amazing pitch? Why not schedule a free strategy call with me?
PITCH MISTAKE #3 – APPROACHING THE WRONG JOURNALIST
Pitching mistake #3 happens due to lack of research – you approach the wrong journalist. First, you need to search for a media outlet that fits with your coaching business. There’s no use in pitching to an angling magazine if you’re a fashion coach.
When you have the right outlet, find the journalist within that outlet who is responsible for your niche. Whether your expertise is in health, careers or relationships – every journalist has a particular field of interest. And you need to find the journalist interested in your niche, and write your pitch to them.
Send a pitch to the wrong person, and you won’t be successful, because journalists won’t forward an email to their colleagues. If you ask them to forward the email to the right person, they will just delete it.
Journalists are under enormous time pressure, day in, day out. They won’t have time to look for the right person to forward your email to. So, when you write a pitch, you should be clear about which journalist you need to email.
PITCH MISTAKE #4 – YOUR PITCH DOESN’T GET TO THE POINT
A pitch has a particular structure. When people write a pitch email, many introduce themselves and then launch straight into their life story. That’s why pitch mistake #4 is not getting right to the point.
I worked in a radio station for 8 years, and some people sent us emails with 700 or 800 words. They expected a journalist, under immense time pressure, to read every word. This is another reason why learning how to write an amazing pitch is key.
Get in, say what you need to say, and get right back out again. Say hi, build some rapport, and pitch your story. Then you can have a short section explaining, ‘This is who I am.’ You can also link out to your website. More or less, when you write a pitch, that’s all you need.
PITCH MISTAKE #5 – SENDING ATTACHMENTS
Sending an attachment is so 1995. People generally don’t send attachments anymore.
So, on the rare occasion that a journalist wants you to share more information with them – send what they need via a link.
Link to your website, link to your media coverage, but never send an attachment.
Lots of these emails automatically go to the spam folder, and will not be brought to the attention of the journalist at all. Not to mention that attachments are often associated with scams and virus downloads.
So, for all these reasons, linking is better than sending attachments.
PITCH MISTAKE #6 – NO FOLLOW-UP EMAIL
Pitch mistake #6 is that you don’t send a follow-up. As I mentioned earlier, journalists are super busy. They have a lot of meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and interviews to conduct. Not to mention the amount of research they need to do.
Just because a journalist didn’t respond to your pitch right away, doesn’t mean they didn’t like your story. They might have read your email and thought your story pitch was interesting, but they’ve had so many tasks to do, it has slipped from their mind. Or maybe they just haven’t had time to even open your email, but have kept it in their inbox, because it interested them.
If you’re sure the story was right for them, then you need to send a follow-up email a couple of days later, especially if it’s time-sensitive. If you write an amazing pitch, it’s only right that the journalist should see it.
Let them know that you sent them a pitch a couple of days earlier. Be sure to forward your previous message, so the journalist can immediately see the pitch underneath. That way, they don’t have to go back into their email inbox, and search around for the pitch you sent.
Ask them if they would be interested in using the story. Accept whatever their response is.
You should generally follow up only once. Don’t be annoying, or try to force them to use your story. If they say no, you can ask them what topics they would be interested in for future stories.
If you don’t get a response, in certain circumstances, it might be appropriate to send a second follow up email. However, after that point, if you don’t receive a response, move on to another media outlet. You can always pitch another story to the initial journalist at a later date.
This is how PR works. Just keep on doing it. Keep reaching out to journalists. By providing them with valuable content, and remaining polite and brief in your pitches, you help to make their jobs easier – and that shapes their perspective of you as a trusted source.
If you want to learn more about how to write an amazing pitch and land media coverage, then schedule a free call with me. You can also take my free PR masterclass to learn more about my Publicity Rockstar Method that my clients and I use to get featured in the media.
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