Figuring out the perfect pitch is a daunting task. There’s no right or wrong way to pitch all journalists, but collectively as a team, we gathered up some general advice from the greatest journalists in the technology and gadget world and compiled their answers for you.
Our featured journalists come from InsideHook, TechCrunch and Ubergizmo. As the New York Editor for InsideHook and a former PR pro, Shari Gab gives us some insightful information from both sides of the spectrum. Co-founder and editor of Ubergizmo.com Eliane Fiolet and TechCrunch senior writer Anthony Ha couldn’t have offered us any better advice, and we hope you’ll put it into practice to get the most out of your media outreach.
What type of information do you like to see in a pitch? Short and sweet, facts only, images, links?
The consensus: Short, sweet and straight to the point.
Shari Gab: What is it? Why now? Why is it relevant to InsideHook? Timing – release date, expiration date, etc. One inline photo, a link to a press release if there is one, website, and at least two high resolution, downloadable images.
Eliane Fiolet: Very explanatory title in the email, so we can grasp what’s new and interesting in the product right away. It helps with the hundreds of emails we receive every day. The top sentence should explain why we should care – what is unique/new/impressive in this product. Bullet points with the key features & specs if it is a new product/service and bullet points with everything new if it is an update of an existing product. DO NOT try to confuse us by mixing the old features with the new ones in an upgrade of an existing product. Also, do not email us about an “old” product and picture it as new. If the product has been launched a month ago, a week ago, be honest and tell us right away. Include the launch date in your email and invite us for a skype or live demo.
Anthony Ha: Short and sweet is best. Longer emails are fine, but you have to grab my attention right away with a compelling subject line and first paragraph, otherwise I’m not going to bother reading the rest. Also, make it clear early on what company you’re representing – it’s really annoying when someone starts off by talking about Google or Facebook and doesn’t admit that they’re representing some obscure startup until four paragraphs in.
Are you more likely to respond to a pitch from someone you have a relationship with rather than a stranger, or does it completely just depend on the pitch/content?
The consensus: A relationship is good, but good content is even better.
Shari Gab: I try to respond to everyone – if the pitch is in any way relevant to my publication. But, if I have a relationship with someone it certainly stands out and I respond faster.
Eliane Fiolet: Usually I pay more attention to emails from people I already know, however the pitch is very important. The pitch has to be relevant to the focus of our coverage – for instance, at Ubergizmo, we focus on consumer hardware news and emerging technologies that will be relevant to people’s lives in the future. We do not cover rounds of funding, business strategies, B2B tech services or B2B tech infrastructure, however, I am fine with getting those pitches in my inbox: it keeps me posted on the state of the industry in general, but I will not reply to the email and I will not cover. I use my inbox as a news feed as well.
Anthony Ha: My editorial decisions are based primarily on content, but I’m more likely to respond to a pitch (even if just to say no) from someone I have a relationship with.
How do you feel about pitches via Twitter? Do you prefer the old school email better?
The consensus: Say no to Twitter, email is the way to go.
Shari Gab: I don’t care about Twitter.
Eliane Fiolet: We do not like or use Twitter as a communication mean. People message us sometimes via Twitter when they do not have our contact info to announce their new devices or products – we tend to be slow to reply via Twitter since we do not check it often, and we have already too many messages to track via email/Facebook/LinkedIn. We do miss emails and pitches, we have too many to track properly, but we try our best to read everything – that is why email titles are so important. It’s the equivalent of the 140 characters tweet.
What type of subject line will get you to open an email? Short and sweet or funny and catchy? Any other tips here?
The consensus: Keep it short, straightforward and specific.
Shari Gab: Catchy lines don’t do much for me. Straightforward and to the point info is best.
Eliane Fiolet: Funny is not really necessary, straight to the point at the top of the message is mandatory. If it is funny on top of it, why not. A fun product that is really fun for the masses will attract coverage for sure. We recommend that you write long messages with more description of the product and the company at the end of the email, so we can get all the background info we need in case we are interested when reading the top of the pitch.
Anthony Ha: Short and specific. Mysterious subject lines are the worst.
How do you feel about embargoed stories- do you appreciate them or are they just a pain to squeeze in?
The consensus: Embargoes are “just okay.”
Anthony Ha: Embargoes are fine, but given the nature of the news cycle there’s always a chance I’ll have to drop them because something more important or more urgent comes up.
What types of products do you get most excited to write about?
The consensus: Something especially unique or rare!
Shari Gab: It has to be new or rare/interesting. Anything that would do it for a fella from destinations, adventure travel, sports, spirits, gear, gadgets to fashion, food news, apps and philanthropy.
Eliane Fiolet: New breakthrough technologies, such as self driving cars, drones or chairs (Nissan), wearable tech that will solve chronic health problems for people (sleep issues, chronic pain, organ or limb replacement alternatives, and more), wearable personal safety tech that’s easy to use and efficient, energy efficiency tech that will allow us to get rid of fossil fuels. Any new consumer mobile technology (smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, laptops, high-end SoC/processors), this is our core coverage.
Anthony Ha: Things that are truly unique, or that I’d want to use myself.
So what’s the perfect pitch? In reality, it should be tailored to fit each journalist that you reach out to. We know that sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it in the long run to build those key relationships and secure media coverage for your brand. It may seem impossible to reach out to so many and tailor each pitch, but that’s why companies like Command Partners exist.