A Data-Driven Approach to Pitching
I recently had the opportunity to delve into the results from a Muck Rack study, which analyzed data from more than 14 million media pitches. It was part of a professional development webinar presented to PR pros to enhance media engagement.
Below are key takeaways for using data to help inform your media pitching strategy.
- Timing: I was always taught the best time for pitching was Tuesday through Thursday, but, these days, the data indicates differently. Reporters actually see fewer pitches on Fridays, and there is a slightly higher open rate, so don’t avoid those end of week pitches. Also, pitching earlier in the day is best— around 9:30 or 10 a.m. For TV specifically, pitch before they gather for the morning/afternoon meetings, or just after a show airs, and it should go without saying to avoid reaching out during news time.
- Open Rates: If you send out a release or pitch through a system like Muck Rack, don’t always trust the open rates as a good indicator for media engagement. Some email platforms automatically open emails before passing them along to the user. Also, the tolerance for impersonalized pitches is dropping among reporters. Open rates will decrease the more emails you add to your media list. Smart, targeted and personalized pitching is your best bet for landing a pitch.
- Time of Year: According to Muck Rack, the best click-through rates on pitches occur in September. However, the highest volume of pitches is received in November and again in the spring. While there is a dip in the number of pitches going out in December with the holidays, PR pros should NOT avoid pitching on holiday weekends. In fact, I have personally experienced success with this approach, as there is less competition for a reporter’s attention and news ideas are scarce.
- Subject lines: PR pros often underestimate the power of a strong subject line. It can be the difference between “oh well, we tried” vs. an award-winning campaign. My tried-and-true rule is to put my former reporter hat on, think of the newsworthy angle, and draft a subject line that could double as the news headline. Other tips based upon Muck Rack’s data include:
- Capitalization doesn’t really matter, but avoid all CAPs, as you don’t want to appear like you are shouting.
- The length of subject line doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. The content is the most important.
- Don’t try too hard. Clever subject lines may be fun, but it’s better to be clear and direct. In fact, for B2B pitching, overly clever subject lines can be your downfall.
- Highlight the timeliness of the story (i.e., Back-to-school, new, launch, etc.)
- If you are offering an interview or expert to comment on a current news story - what we call “newsjacking” - be sure to include upfront phrases like “Interview available” or “Analyst comment”. Keep in mind, though, if your client is not well-known in the industry, don’t include their name in the subject line. No one knows who they are. However, you could use something like “Meet the women behind…” Although, the person must be doing something interesting to warrant news.
- Use RE in the subject line – not for “Reply” but for “Regarding”. This tip is subtle but can influence the mind into reading on. For example, Story RE: New Apartment Amenities for Reducing Stress.
- Another idea to experiment with is including a short call to action at the front and then add details. For example, Need a copy? On your radar? Interview? Interested?
- Use unvarnished questions to grab their attention. For example: Are you part of the 20 percent with locked crypto?
As a member of the Michael Smart PR Inner Circle, I have access to informative webinars and trainings like this one, which are designed to enhance media pitching skills and ensure our team is staying informed on trends and best practices – helping us secure wins for our clients.
Hopefully, these tips help you land a front-page story. Happy pitching!