PR Training

Does Your Pitch Pass the 5-Second Skim Test?

As any good real estate agent knows, location is everything. Even the most beautiful homes can seem unappealing if the neighborhood isn’t ideal.

Location is just as important in PR pitches. Overall, it takes about 5 seconds to skim a pitch. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how great your story is; if you don’t have the right info in the right location, then your journalist is going to pass.

Let’s look at the most valuable slices of real estate in your email pitch:

  1. Your subject line should grab attention in a crowded and boring inbox. It should stand out with a flash, leaving journalists unable to resist opening your email. But it’s important to never promise more than you can deliver. If your subject line says “Pop icon to endorse new diet trend,” then your email better include an iconic pop star. Never bait-and-switch.
  2. Your customized intro should be warm, friendly and not overly formal. It should make the journalist want to stay and keep reading. Use this space to show the journalist you know who they are, what they do and the stories that are relevant to them.
  3. Your compelling story idea comes next. This is place to showcase your compelling angle front and center. Don’t bog this space down with paragraphs of background info. Select your words carefully. Consider using bullet points to punctuate and simplify your idea.
  4. Your call to action is the note you end on. The majority of pitches do not invite journalists to act, and this can make all the difference in whether you get a response or not.

So, here’s my call to action. Five seconds may not seem like a lot of time to get your point across. However, if you follow my guide and learn the real estate of your email pitch, then you’ll earn a much higher response rate from the journalists you’re targeting.

 

P.S. The “P.S.” section of your email is where you can put in the info intended for people who have been intrigued by what you wrote earlier. For example, we still have slots available for the Secrets of Media Relations Masters workshop in Atlanta on March 21-22. If you’d like to dive into the pitch structure outline above in way more detail, this workshop is a great way to do that.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

 

 

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Michael Smart

1 Comment

  • I agree with this post. People’s attention spans and willingness to care are so fleeting in this day and age. It’s vital to grab their attention and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, even when they just skim it. The subject line is almost the most important part because it’s their first impression, and that’s where they will make their judgments. The real estate analogy is really good- it really is all about location, location, location! In a pitch, every word counts. Bait and switch is the worse ploy you could pull on someone. It’s always frustrating and never works.

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