02 November 2020 Guest Contributor

Back in the not-so-distant past, you'd pick up the phone and call the media to pitch your small business' event or your entrepreneurial story. But today, 93% of journalists prefer to receive such pitches via email. There's just one problem: Journalists receive hundreds of such pitches a month.

If you want to get your small business featured in the media — it's a powerful, effective way to get in front of your audience and build brand trust — you need to stand out and catch the journalist's attention. But how to do this? It all starts with writing a killer email pitch that slays your competition. 

Rise to the Top of a Journalist's Inbox: Best Practices for the Perfect Email Pitch

Raise the profile of your small business by getting featured on a morning talk show or getting published in a magazine or local newspaper. 

Unlike traditional ads (including social media advertising), an estimated 92% of consumers say they trust earned media. But you aren't the only brand or small business vying for a journalist's attention. It's time to stand out in the crowd with a pitch that gets you featured ASAP.

1. Focus on the Journalist, Not the Outlet

This advice turns the traditional public relations approach on its head, but what better way to get ahead of your competitors than by doing an eye-catching headstand? 

Many brands start by focusing on the outlet they want to be featured in. They'll then send their pitch to the outlet, often sending it to a generic email like or

We guarantee you that the overworked editor who manages that general inbox, or the poor intern who's summer job requires keeping tabs of the incoming correspondence, has too much on their plate to pay your pitch the attention it deserves.

Instead, find the writer who covers the specific area of interest that's related to your small business or entrepreneurial venture. Check the masthead of the magazine. Review the outlet's online media kit. Tune in to the end of the radio show to hear who the producer is.

Then, file away the name and email address of the individual reporter who covers the beat you want.

BONUS: In today's age, many reporters work for numerous media outlets. When you find the right journalist who would be most interested in featuring your story, they may even use your pitch for an outlet you haven't even considered!

2. Let's Get Personal, Personal (Thanks, Livvy! x)

Once you find the right writer, it's time to do some snooping. The person on the other end of that email address is a living, breathing human with interests, passions, and dislikes. 

If you can find a way to personalise your upcoming pitch to their own personality, you're far more likely to hear back from them. In a study of more than 12 million PR pitches, pitches that were personalised to the journalist receiving them saw a 33% increase in responses. 

Find the journalist's social media feeds (it's a great way to figure out their personal hobbies or interests). Check to see if you have any mutual connections on LinkedIn. Read their website or blog to see how they tend to talk and write. 

Of course, don't be creepy. Stalk them online in a friendly way, the way you might do if you were curious about a long-lost high school friend. 

Then, make a list of a few things you could mention in your email pitch. This will make it clear that you aren't just spamming them with the same pitch you're sending to a hundred other outlets (everyone wants to feel special, after all!). 

3. Find Your Hook

We guarantee that if you simply send a generic email pitch or press release to a journalist — even one that has a personalised introduction or subject line — you WILL get ignored. 

This is kind of like going on a first date. You need something that grabs their attention and makes them feel connected to you. If you want the journalist to swipe left on your idea, you need to pitch them a story that: 

  • Is related to their past work, but...
  • Is unique and fresh enough that they haven't thought of this angle, and...
  • Fits the needs of the outlet they work for.

The hook grabs their attention, and by doing the guesswork for them (basically giving them a story idea with a fully fleshed out angle), you'll make their reporting job easier and exponentially increase the chances that they'll use your pitch. 

Here's an example combining all the above:

[SUBJECT] 12 surprising things employers need to do if they don't want to get sued (re: Smith v. Wade)

Hey < reporter name >,

I was researching the best way to deal with harassment in the workplace, and I read your recent article in the Herald Sun about the High Court of Australia's ruling in Smith v. Wade. You had incredibly eye-opening insights on the implications for employers in Melbourne.

I actually run a software start-up that automates a lot of the legal processes that the High Court discussed, and we have a checklist for each of our clients of the 12 things they're likely doing that will leave them open to a lawsuit in light of the new ruling. 

I thought you might find it useful for your next story.  Let me know if you'd like me to email it to you?

Thanks so much,

< Your Name >

As you can see, this pitch: 

  • Targets the right journalist
  • Personalises it to the journalist's background and personal interests
  • Gives them a timely, relevant story that fits the beat they cover at their media outlet
  • Asks for a quick follow up 

The pitch itself is short and deceptively simple, but it requires some legwork in advance if you want to truly catch a writer's attention. (And remember, 'brevity' is a skill universally appreciated by busy journalists.)

In the meantime, if you want to be a source for journalists who are actively seeking new story ideas and subject matter experts, join SourceBottle today