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Anatomy of the Perfect Pitch: PR Pros Speak Out About the Best Qualities of Their Media Relations

Jenna Dutcher By Jenna Dutcher, Community Relations Manager, Communications@Syracuse

What is the most crucial element of a PR pitch? At Communications@Syracuse, we recently asked 25 thought leaders this exact question to find out what should be prioritized when writing up a pitch. Common themes that emerged were brevity, relevance and the art of storytelling. Read on for some of our favorite answers.

Brevity

Susan Murphy, vice president at Coyne PR: “The best advice I can give for a PR pitch is to keep it short and to the point. No one, especially an editor or producer, has the time to read through a lengthy pitch. The subject line should spell out exactly what you are pitching. You need to catch their attention so that they open your e-mail in the first place. From there, you want to make sure your point is clear and concise in the first sentence or two. You can always include a press release or fact sheet with more info, but if they open your e-mail and see lots and lots of paragraphs, they’ll delete it before they even read it.”

Amanda Nadile, senior account executive, Racepoint Global: “Include an incentive subject line. Subject lines should be short and sweet, and the incentive should be clearly stated in order to increase open rates. Position the good stuff above the fold. Similar to not burying the lead, your call to action should always be in the first couple of sentences. The rest of the e-mail pitch can serve as background or additional context.”

Relevance

Tanya Scalisi, account director, J Public Relations: “The most crucial element of a PR pitch is demonstrating an understanding of the outlet and writer that you are pitching. Writers and editors are getting pitched by PR people every day. One way to make your pitch stand out is to show that you have done your research and are being very deliberate in sending a story idea their way.”

Storytelling

Cortney Stapleton, partner, Bliss Integrated Communication: “When you are pitching a journalist, it is important to remember it’s about the story and how your client fits in. Sometimes companies are the news, but more often they are adding commentary to the news. Journalists are excellent storytellers, so help make their job easier by understanding fully what your client wants to say and then make it interesting, to the point and relevant to the audience the journalist is writing for.”

Kimberley Fritts, CEO, Podesta Group: “More important than having a slick, polished pitch is having a great story. So first and foremost, it’s understanding what’s news. But further, making sure you understand the outlet you are pitching and their audience—and ensuring your pitch is a fit for both. It’s about connecting the right story to the right storyteller.”

John Quinn, executive vice president, rbb Communications: “Make sure you’re telling a story and not just pushing a series of key message points or brand attributes. Those things are important, but give them context in a good story and then you’ve got a powerful pitch.”

For more answers from these thought leaders and others, check out “The Perfect Pitch.”

Jenna Dutcher is the Community Relations Manager of the online Master’s in Communications program, Communications@Syracuse, and current Communications@Syracuse student specializing in Journalism Innovation. Dutcher earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.

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